Sarcomas and Orthopedic Oncology FAQ

What is a sarcoma?
Are sarcomas common?
What is the difference between a growth, a tumor, and a malignant tumor?
What are the most common bone sarcomas?
What are the most common soft tissue sarcomas?
What are the symptoms of a sarcoma?
Can sarcomas spread?
How are sarcomas treated?
What is bone cancer?
How are bone sarcomas treated?
What about limb amputation?
What will happen when the patient sees a LifeBridge Health cancer specialist?
What will happen during a biopsy?
Who will coordinate my treatment? 
 

 

What is a sarcoma?


Sarcoma is a cancer that develops in the bone or soft / connective tissue of the body which includes fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones, muscles, deep skin tissues, and cartilage. With more than 50 different subtypes, sarcomas are divided into two main groups; bone tumors and soft tissue sarcomas.  

 

Are sarcomas common?


No. Sarcoma are very rare and represent less than one percent of all cancers diagnosed in the US. The American Cancer Society's most recent estimates are that approximately 11,280 soft tissue sarcomas and about 2,890 bone sarcomas will be diagnosed in the US this year in both adults and children.

 

What is the difference between a growth, a tumor, and a malignant tumor?


A growth is a general term that describes any lump or bump. A growth can be cancerous or benign (non life-threatening.) A malignant tumor is cancer and is potentially life-threatening.

 

 

What are the most common bone sarcomas?


The most common bone sarcomas include osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma and chondrosarcoma.

 

What are the most common soft tissue sarcomas?


The most common soft tissue sarcomas are malignant fibrous histiocytoma, liposarcoma, and fibrosarcoma. Other types of sarcomas include angiosarcoma, leiomyosarcoma, neurofibrosarcoma, rhabdomysarcoma, and synovial sarcoma.

 

 

What are the symptoms of a sarcoma?


Bone sarcomas may be painful, especially during activity. Soft tissue sarcomas generally begin as a painless enlarged mass.


 

Can sarcomas spread?


Yes. A tumor can spread, or metastasize, through the bloodstream and lodge in other parts of the body, such as the lungs or the lymph nodes.

 



How are sarcomas treated?


Some soft tissue sarcomas, depending on the type, location and size, may be treated with chemotherapy. Radiation may be used before or after surgery for some soft tissue sarcomas.



 

What is bone cancer?


Primary bone cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the bone. It is more common for cancer to appear in the bone as a result of it spreading from another organ, such as the lung, kidney, breast, prostate or thyroid.

 

How are bone sarcomas treated?


Bone sarcomas are usually treated with surgery and chemotherapy.

 

What about limb amputation?


Nearly 95 percent of all sarcomas can be treated without amputation. Limb-sparing surgery consists of complete removal of the tumor without amputation. Treatment of bone tumors involved skeletal reconstruction and soft and muscle transfers.

 

What will happen when the patient sees a LifeBridge Health cancer specialist?


The physician will talk to you and your family, do a physical examination and take a medical history. He may request radiological imaging, including standard X-rays, an MRI, a CT scan, a PET scan or a bone scan. A biopsy may also be required.

 

 

What will happen during a biopsy?


The physician will recommend either a core needle biopsy, which is less invasive and can be done in an office, or an incisional biopsy, which is performed in an operating room and provides more tissue for the pathologist to examine.


 

Who will coordinate my treatment?


At Sinai Hospital, a multidisciplinary team of orthopedic oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and a dedicated team of oncology professionals will work together to develop an individualized treatment plan, with a personal approach.