July is Sarcoma awareness month
Sarcomas are rare cancers and there are three main types of sarcoma: soft tissue sarcoma, bone sarcoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST).
Tissues that can be affected by soft tissue sarcomas include fat, muscle, blood vessels, deep skin tissues, tendons and ligaments. Bone sarcomas are covered separately.
Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in almost any part of the body, including the legs, arms and tummy (abdomen).
Bone sarcomas affect less than 500 people in the UK each year, making it a very rare form of cancer. Not all bone cancers will be sarcomas.
Signs and Symptoms
- Bone pain, particularly occurring at night
- A mass or swelling
- Restricted movement in a joint
- Symptoms can sometimes be confused with more common problems such as a sports injury or in children and young people or growing pains.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Symptoms of sarcoma can vary depending on the size and location of your tumour. You may experience all, some or none of these symptoms before you are diagnosed with a sarcoma:
A lump or swelling in the soft tissue of the body under the skin, often on the arm, leg or trunk that is:
- Increasing in size
- Larger than 5cm
- Usually painful, but not always
GIST is the most common type of sarcoma. It develops in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, a long tube running through the body from the oesophagus (gullet) to the anus (back passage) and includes the stomach and intestines.
Symptoms of GIST can vary depending on the size and location of the tumour. They may include:
- Blood in your poo or vomit
- Anaemia (low level red blood cells)
- Fever and sweating at night
- Discomfort or pain in your tummy
- Painless lump in the tummy
- Feeling sick and vomiting
- Weight loss
This type of Sarcoma occurs in the female reproductive system: the uterus (womb), endometrium (womb lining) ovaries, vagina, vulva and fallopian tubes. They can affect women of any age although they are very rare in women under the age of 30.
Symptoms of gynaecological sarcomas can vary depending on the size and location of the tumour. They may include:
- Heavy periods or bleeding in between periods
- An enlarging fibroid
- Vaginal bleeding after the menopause
- Blood in vaginal discharge
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- A noticeable lump on a section of the vulva
The retroperitoneum is deep in the abdomen (tummy) and pelvis, behind the abdominal lining, where organs such as the major blood vessels, kidneys, pancreas and bladder are located.
Symptoms of retroperitoneal sarcomas can vary depending on the size and location of your tumour. They may include:
- A noticeable lump in the abdomen
- Increase in abdominal girth
- Dull pain in the abdomen or back
- Intense abdominal pain with bleeding
Other rare symptoms include early satiety (meaning feeling full after eating a small amount of food), weight loss, hernia or anaemia.
How can you help?
There is a wealth of ideas to help raise money into research into Sarcoma. Maybe you are sporty and would like to do a bike ride, marathon or cycle. Perhaps you are really adventurous and would like to trek up Mount Kilimanjaro! Or you arrange a coffee morning or arrange a picnic!
Sarcoma UK, a charity relies on donations and fundraising activities to support people diagnosed with Sarcoma, run support groups, fund research and educate professionals.
Help volunteer art challenge events, charity nights or become a collection box co-ordinator.
Write to your MP
Call on your MP to raise awareness of sarcoma and the issues affecting sarcoma patients – it’s time to put some pressure on. Your local MP is in a position to bring about real change, but they need you to tell them how. Templates can be found on the Sarcoma UK website.
Further Information and support on Sarcoma can be found here: