As July marks World Sarcoma Month, it is important to spread awareness about the condition - what it is, the most common symptoms and risk factors.
What is sarcoma?
Sarcomas are rare malignant (cancerous) tumours which affect bone, cartilage or soft tissues (muscle, nerves and fat).
About 200 people are diagnosed each year in Ireland with some type of sarcoma.
The most common type of sarcoma is soft tissue sarcoma. Four out of five sarcomas are found in these tissues. More than half of soft tissue sarcomas are found in the leg. However, sarcomas can affect any part of your body.
What are the symptoms?
Soft tissue sarcomas: Symptoms
Symptoms can vary a lot depending on the type of sarcoma and the following are general guidelines only. Always get any unusual lumps or other changes checked by your GP.
A lump is more likely to be a soft tissue sarcoma if it is:
- Big, for example, more than 4-5cm across (the size of a golf ball) and especially if it is getting bigger
- Deep in the body tissues, underneath the skin
- Not painful when you touch it, but pain may be a symptom as the lump gets bigger
It is possible to have other symptoms, depending on where the sarcoma is in the body.
Bone sarcomas: Symptoms
- Pain around a bone
- A hard lump
- A lump that is growing in size
What increases my risk of sarcoma?
The causes of most sarcomas are unknown. Risk factors that can increase your chance of developing sarcoma include:
- Inherited conditions: If you had retinoblastoma (an eye cancer) as a child or neurofibromatosis type 1 (a condition that causes the growth of benign and malignant tumours) you may have an increased risk of developing sarcoma.
- Previous radiotherapy: If you have had previous radiotherapy, you might have a higher risk. Very rarely, a sarcoma might develop many years after treatment.
Feel free to share this article with others to raise awareness about the symptoms and what to look out for.
Information from the Irish Cancer Society