What is Sarcoma?

Sarcomas consist of abnormal cells that grow uncontrollably to form malignant (cancerous) tumors that begin in bone or the soft tissues that surround and support your body. Since bone, cartilage, and soft tissue including tendons, muscle, joints, nerves, blood vessels, lymph vessels, and fat cells run throughout the body, sarcomas can occur anywhere. Both adults and children can develop sarcomas. Though there are over 75 types of sarcoma, less than one percent of all patients with cancer have sarcoma.

Sarcomas grow and spread differently than other cancers. Sarcomas of the bone arise primarily from bone, as opposed to spreading to bone from other parts of the body. Sarcomas tend to spread to the lungs, and they can spread to other bones and to the liver, but sarcomas rarely spread to lymph nodes. Sarcomas grow into ball-like masses that can push against adjacent parts of the body, such as arteries, nerves, and veins to compress adjoining muscles. The local ball-like growth of a sarcoma enables surgical removal in most instances.