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Understanding your risk

Like other cancers, your risk depends on many variables, including:

  • Family history
  • Lifestyle behavior (e.g. smoking, alcohol, diet and exercise)
  • Overall health
  • Age (nearly 15 percent of all cancer in young children is sarcoma)
  • Bone diseases such as Paget’s
  • Exposure to radiation, or a weakened system due to prior bouts with cancer

Optum’s oncology department offers comprehensive cancer risk assessments and hereditary cancer genetics evaluation programs to help you identify your risk.

Diagnosing sarcoma

In order to properly test for all types of sarcoma, a variety of imaging tests and biopsies may be performed depending on the location of the suspected sarcoma and the severity of the injury.

In addition, diagnosing the type of sarcoma will come first, as this may dictate the type of test ordered.

Types of sarcoma

Because sarcoma covers a broad range of tumors, it is classified in two separate groups: 

Soft tissue: This is a rare cancer, making up only 1% of all cancers diagnosed. It can occur in the muscles, fat, blood vessels, tendons, fibrous tissues, and tissues around joints.

Symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma include:

  • A lump growing anywhere on your body
  • Sharp, recurring abdominal pain
  • Bloody vomit or stool

Bone: Bone sarcomas are typically diagnosed in children and are very rare. This can be primary, which develops in the bone, or secondary, which spreads to the bone from another part of the body.

Symptoms of bone sarcoma include:

  • Pain (sharp at first, then steady) in the location of the tumor
  • Swelling in your joints
  • Limping or a change in gait
  • Occasional changes in health (fever, weight loss, anemia, etc.)

Treatment

While your treatment options will be determined by your physician, they often include the following:

  • Surgery: to remove the the tumor or affected area
  • Radiation therapy: high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays and protons, that are used to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy: chemicals administered in pill or IV form to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells

Medical care and help

To find a sarcoma specialist near you, visit our providers page.

Click here to learn more about Optum’s minimally invasive robotic assisted surgery options.

Contact us if you have any questions.