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Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcoma

A sarcoma is a rare form of cancer of the bones and soft tissues including fat, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and joints.  We understand that a diagnosis of sarcoma cancer for you or a loved one can be stressful and overwhelming. Our experienced team of physicians is dedicated to not only care for their patients but also assist patients and their families to alleviate anxiety.

Risk Factors

Most sarcomas do not have a known cause, although patients who are considered to be at risk often have a: 

  • History of radiation therapy: People who have received radiation therapy for previous cancers may be at higher risk of developing a sarcoma.
  • Genetic disorder: People with a family history of inherited disorders such as von Recklinghausen’s disease (neurofibromatosis), Gardner syndrome, Werner syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, or retinoblastoma have a higher risk of sarcoma.
  • Chemical exposure: Exposure to vinyl chloride monomer (a substance used to make some types of plastics), dioxin, or arsenic may increase the risk of sarcoma. However, most sarcomas are not known to be associated with specific environmental hazards.
  • Long-term swelling: Having lymphedema, or swelling, in the arms or legs for a long time could increase the risk of sarcoma.


Early detection and diagnosis is one of the most important elements of a successful treatment. Some symptoms of sarcome cancer include:

Soft Tissue Sarcoma Symptoms:

Painless lump or swelling.  Some sarcomas may not cause any symptoms until they grow and press on neighboring nerves, organs or muscles, at which point they may cause pain, a feeling of fullness or trouble breathing.

Bone Sarcoma Symptoms:

Pain and/or swelling in an arm or leg, the trunk, the pelvis, or the back. Swelling may or may not feel warm to the touch. Other signs include a limited range of motion in a joint, a fever for no known reason or a bone that breaks from no apparent cause.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, please call your primary care provider for a proper diagnosis. 

Treatments and Services

Because sarcomas are rare, it is important to see physicians who are experienced in treating them. Some sarcomas can be treated just with chemotherapy, while others may require radiation before, during or after surgery. As a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Sibley is able to offer many of the same treatment options as the Johns Hopkins Hospital and in many cases, the same physicians are available to offer opinions and consultations on cases. 

Following successful treatment, our experts continue to monitor patients regularly to check for recurrence of disease.

Treatment methods include: 

Photo of Dr. Jonathan Agner Forsberg, M.D., Ph.D.

Forsberg, Jonathan Agner, M.D., Ph.D.

Expertise, Disease and Conditions: Bone Sarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Ewing's Sarcoma, Metastatic Bone Disease, Musculoskeletal Tumors Involving the Extremities, Orthopaedic Surgery, Osseointegration Amputation Surgery, Osteosarcoma, Soft Tissue Sarcoma