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Sarcoma - What it is

Sarcomas are rare and aggressive cancers that begin in the bones and connective tissues (e.g cartilage, muscle, tendons). Sarcomas are broadly divided into two categories; soft tissue and bone sarcomas.
Sarcomas comprise <1% of all malignancies in adults and 20% of childhood malignancies. Different subtypes of sarcoma affect patients from different age groups. Sarcomas are rare cancers. From 2012 to 2021, the National Cancer Centre Singapore saw approximately 1,700 cases of sarcoma.
There are more than 70 types of soft tissue sarcoma, some of these include:
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) – usually forms in the digestive tract, tend to be large and can spread to other parts of the body
  • Liposarcoma – originates in fatty tissue with some types being more aggressive than others
  • Leiomyosarcoma – forms in the smooth muscle tissue that lines hollow organs. In women, the uterus is the most common location for this type of sarcoma.
  • Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) – can form anywhere, usually occurs in the abdomen, on arms and legs (especially thighs), and grows and spreads quickly to other parts of the body.
  • Synovial sarcoma – more common in children and young adults. Usually occurs on the arms, legs, finger and toes.
Some types of bone sarcoma are:
  • Osteosarcoma – also called osteogenic sarcoma, these begin in cells within the bones and often occur in the arms and legs
  • Chondrosarcoma – starts in the cartilage, often found in the pelvis, upper leg and shoulder bones
  • Ewing sarcoma – can occur in any bone and can also occur in soft tissue, most commonly affects the pelvis, thigh, lower leg, upper arm and chest wall
  • Chordoma – a rare form of bone sarcoma that can occur in the skull or spine
  • Giant cell tumours – a rare form of bone sarcoma that can grow quickly and become cancerous, often forms near the joints
The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth