Living With Sarcoma

Understanding the Basics

Understanding the basics can be overwhelming. Below are some frequently asked questions to help you understand the disease and potential treatment options.

What is the difference between a benign and a malignant tumor?
Malignant tumors (“cancers”) are capable of spreading to other parts of the body whereas benign tumors cannot spread. Some benign tumors are called “aggressive” because they can destroy nearby bones and soft-tissues yet do not spread to other body sites.

What is a Sarcoma?
Sarcomas are malignant tumors that arise from the musculoskeletal system, bone, fat, cartilage and fibrous tissue.

How much flexion do you need?What is Osteosarcoma?
Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer. It occurs in the long bones of the arms, legs or pelvis. It is a primary bone malignancy generally affecting the young between the ages of 10 and 25. 60% of cases occur before age 25 and the peak incidence is at 15 years old.3

What is Ewing Sarcoma?
Ewing sarcoma is a cancer that occurs primarily in the bone of soft tissue. Ewing sarcoma can occur in any bone but is most often found in extremities. Ewing sarcoma can also spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body, including the bone marrow, lungs, kidneys, heart, adrenal glands and other soft tissue. Ewing sarcoma most often occurs in children between the ages of 5 and 20 and accounts for about 30% of all pediatric bone cancers.1

What is the difference between a carcinoma and a sarcoma?
Most cancers (>90%) arise from “epithelial” tissues, such as the inside lining of the colon, breast, lung or prostate.1 These are referred to as carcinomas and usually affect older people. Sarcomas are tumors that arise from tissues such as bone, muscle, connective tissue, cartilage, and fat. Sarcomas occur in young people as well as in adults and comprise less than 1% of all cancers.1 Sarcomas are named the tissue of origin; for example, “osteosarcoma” arises from bone, “liposarcoma” arises from fat and “chondrosarcoma” arises from cartilage.

How is a diagnosis made?
In most cases, your history, examination and imaging studies will predict the diagnosis. However, a definitive diagnosis is not made until a biopsy is performed and tissue obtained for pathological examination.

What is a biopsy?
A biopsy is the removal of a sample of tissue which is examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells. “Minimally invasive” needle biopsies, computed tomography (CT) and guided biopsies are options your medical team may choose.