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About Sarcoma  > Sarcoma FAQ

About Sarcoma

WHAT ARE SARCOMAS?

The term sarcoma comes from the Greek 'sarx' meaning "flesh". It is a general term describing group of devastating malignant neoplasms, or cancers, that arises from transformed connective tissue cells such as bone, cartilage, and fat cells, which originate from the embryonic mesenchymal cells. 

Because these tissues are found everywhere on the body, sarcomas can arise anywhere and are frequently hidden deep in the limbs (which is where majority of the body's connective tissue is), with the tendency to present late due to vague symptoms. Sarcomas account for 15-20% of childhood cancer diagnoses and about 1% of adult cancer diagnoses. 

They can also occur in places where cancers of epithelial origin (carcinomas) are more common, and hence present as an occasional surprise to pathologists. They can present as breast sarcomas, ovarian sarcomas, uterine sarcomas, lung sarcomas and stomach sarcomas.

Although relatively rare, Sarcomas contribute disproportionately to cancer burden in our community, as they mostly affect the young. They are also the most aggressive primary cancers with an overall 50 per cent mortality or survival rate at five years. 

Sarcoma are rare by the prolific standards of the most common cancers including breast and prostate and hence have trouble attracting research funding from governments to find a cure with such small patient numbers.

REFERENCES:

P.C.W. HOGENDORN (on the behalf of the ESMO/ EUROBONET working group). Bone sarcomas:ESMO; Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of oncology 21 (supplement 5); v 198-v203, 2010

P.G.Casali and J.Y. Blay (On the behalf of the ESMO/ CONTICANET/ EUROBONET consensus Panel of Experts; Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of oncology 21 (supplement 5); v 198-v203, 2010

NOTE: The clinical Practice guidelines have been developed following a consensus based on a consensus event organized by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Lugano in 2009. This involved experts from the European sarcoma research groups, sarcoma networks of excellence and ESMO Faculty. CONTICANET (Connective Tissue Cancers NETwork) and EURONET (EuRopean Bone NETwork) also financially supported the consensus process.

LINKS:

Australasian Sarcoma Study Group website: www.australiansarcomagroup.org
www.team-sarcoma.net