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Types of Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcomas

Sarcoma is the name given to cancers that begin in the bone, muscle, fat, nerves or connective tissue.

Bone Sarcomas
Cancer beginning in the bone is called bone cancer. Bone sarcomas are rare cancers, accounting for less than one percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. The three most common types of bone sarcomas are:

  • Osteosarcoma is the most common type of malignant bone tumor. It develops in the bones, cartilage, fibrous tissue, and bone marrow. The symptoms often include pain, swelling, a lump, and bone fractures. If the tumor spreads beyond the bone, other symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, cough, fever, weight loss, and weakness may occur.
  • Ewing's sarcoma is commonly found in young adults, under the age of 25. It typically occurs in long bones, such as the bones of the leg or arm and causes bone pain. It may also spread to other bones and to the lungs.
  • Chondrosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer, developing in cartilage. Cartilage is the hard, resilient material found on the surface of bones at the joints. Chondrosarcomas occur in the arms, legs, or the trunk of the body.

Soft Tissue Sarcomas
When cancer cells begin in the soft tissue of your body, it is called soft tissue sarcoma. Soft tissue sarcomas occur more often in adults. Soft tissue sarcomas develop in connective tissue, which includes muscles, tendons, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and synovial tissues found around the joints.

Approximately 50 percent of soft tissue sarcomas occur in the extremities (arms, legs, hands or feet), 40 percent occur in the trunk (chest, back, hips, shoulders and abdomen), and 10 percent occur in the head and neck. Uterine sarcomas, which occur in the uterus, are very rare soft tissue sarcomas. They most commonly occur in women after menopause.


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