Answers from an Expert: Sarcoma, the Forgotten Cancer


New Brunswick, N.J. July 1, 2022 – According to the American Cancer Society, sarcoma, often called ‘the forgotten cancer,’ makes up approximately 1 percent of all adult cancer diagnoses, which means that unless you or someone you know has been diagnosed with the disease, you probably don’t know too much about it. Adam C. Berger, MD, FACS, chief of Melanoma and Soft Tissue Surgical Oncology and associate director for Shared Resources at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey addresses common questions.

What is sarcoma?
Sarcoma is a rare kind of cancer that grows in bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, and other connective tissue. There are two broad categories for sarcoma. The first category is soft tissue sarcoma, which means that the cancer arises in the soft tissue elements of the extremity, such as muscles, fat, nerves and blood vessels. The second category is bone sarcoma, which are cancers that originate in the bone. These are further classified into more than 70 sarcoma subtypes. Subtypes of sarcoma are named based on the surrounding tissue, the affected area of the bone or the type of cells creating the tumor.

What are the most common types of sarcoma?
The most common types of sarcoma are soft tissue sarcomas, including angiosarcomas, fibrosarcomas, leiomyosarcomas, rhabdomyosarcomas, liposarcomas and synovial sarcomas. Osteosarcomas (bone sarcomas) are the second most common type, with the least frequent type being sarcomas that develop in internal organs, such as the lungs.

What are the symptoms of sarcoma?
The symptoms of sarcomas vary because they take multiple forms in multiple locations. For example, in their early stages, soft tissue sarcomas rarely display any symptoms other than a painless lump. As the tumor grows, pain may occur depending on where the tumor is located, or if it presses on nearby nerves. With sarcoma of the bone, pain is the most common symptom. Treatments for sarcomas are dependent upon the subtype a patient has and will vary widely depending on a variety of other factors such as tumor location and size, the patient’s age and if the tumor is new or recurrent.

With a rare and complex type of cancer such as sarcoma, it is important to seek the best possible care. Experts at Rutgers Cancer Institute, New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center together with RWJBarnabas Health are involved in various precision medicine initiatives for sarcomas focusing on personalized treatment for metastatic disease as well as early detection. Clinical trials for sarcomas are also currently being conducted, focusing on both targeted therapy and immunotherapy for treatment of the disease. Learn more:


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