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Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Cancer affecting the bone or soft tissue, such as the fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and joints, is known as sarcoma. Diagnosis with this rare form of cancer can be stressful and overwhelming, but Sibley Memorial Hospital brings the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute’s world-class treatment and care close to home.

Risk Factors

Sarcomas are very rare, and their causes remain mostly unknown. However, there are certain risk factors, including:

  • Radiation therapy for past cancer treatments
  • Family history of inherited genetic disorders like von Recklinghausen’s disease (neurofibromatosis), Gardner syndrome, Werner syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, or retinoblastoma
  • Chemical exposure to vinyl chloride monomer (a substance used to make some types of plastics), dioxin, or arsenic
  • Lymphedema, or prolonged swelling in the arms or legs

Symptoms

Symptoms look different depending on the type of sarcoma.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma symptoms may include:

  • Painless lump or swelling
  • Nerve, organ, or muscle pain
  • Feelings of fullness
  • Difficulty breathing

Bone Sarcoma symptoms may include:

  • Pain and/or swelling in an arm or leg, the trunk, the pelvis, or the back
  • Limited range of joint motion
  • Unexplained Fever
  • Unexplained broken bone

Treatments

Sarcoma treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the type of sarcoma; the tumor’s location, grade and size; your age; and whether it is a new or returning cancer. Sarcoma is treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Reconstruction of the surgical area typically takes place at the same time the tumor is removed.

Treatments offered at Sibley Memorial Hospital include:

Screenings

If your doctor suspects that you may have a sarcoma, the first step is usually a biopsy. The sample will then be examined for cancer cells. Depending on the results, you may also undergo additional tests, such as X-ray, MRI, CT, or ultrasound.

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