July Awareness Month: Focusing on Sarcoma Awareness

July Awareness Month: Focusing on Sarcoma Awareness 

July is Sarcoma Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about sarcoma, a rare and often overlooked form of cancer. Let’s explore the differences between primary bone cancer and metastatic bone cancer, highlight where most sarcomas are found in the body, discuss signs and symptoms, provide information on when to seek care, and examine the prevalence of this cancer.   

Understanding Primary Bone Cancer vs. Metastatic Bone Cancer 

Primary Bone Cancer 

Primary bone cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the bones. This form of cancer is relatively rare and includes types such as osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing sarcoma. Since it begins in the bones themselves, it specifically targets bone tissue, potentially causing pain, fractures, and other bone-related issues. This type of cancer is most commonly found in children and young adults. 

Metastatic Bone Cancer 

In contrast, metastatic bone cancer does not originate in the bones. Instead, it results from cancer cells spreading from another part of the body to the bones. Common primary sites for cancers that metastasize to bones include the prostate, breast, lung, and kidney. Metastatic bone cancer is more common than primary bone cancer and typically affects older adults. Since it arises from other primary cancers, treatment requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both the primary and metastatic sites. 

Where Are Sarcomas Found in the Body? 

Sarcomas are a type of cancer that can develop in various tissues of the body, including bone, muscle, fat, blood vessels, and other connective tissues. There are two broad categories of sarcoma: soft tissue sarcomas and bone sarcomas. 

Soft Tissue Sarcomas 

Soft tissue sarcomas can occur in any part of the body, but they are most frequently found in the arms, legs, and abdomen. These sarcomas arise from the soft tissues that connect and support various other structures in the body. 

Bone Sarcomas 

Bone sarcomas, as the name suggests, develop in the bones. Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma are two prevalent types of bone sarcoma. Osteosarcoma is most commonly found in the long bones of the arms and legs, while Ewing sarcoma can affect the pelvis, ribs, and spine, in addition to the long bones. 

Signs and Symptoms of Sarcoma: When to Seek Care 

Early detection of sarcoma, a rare cancer originating in the bones or soft tissues, significantly improves the chances of successful treatment. However, the symptoms of sarcoma can often be mistaken for less serious conditions, leading to delays in diagnosis. Here are some common signs and symptoms to watch for: 

Persistent Pain 

Unexplained pain that doesn’t go away or worsen over time may indicate a sarcoma. This pain may not always be severe but is often persistent and localized to a specific area. 

Swelling or Lump 

A noticeable lump or swelling, especially if it’s growing or painful, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. These lumps are often firm and can be found in the limbs, abdomen, or any other area with increased connective tissue. 

Limited Mobility 

Difficulty moving a limb or limping could suggest a sarcoma in the bones or muscles. This symptom becomes more pronounced as the tumor grows and interferes with normal joint or muscle function. 


Generalized fatigue or unexplained weight loss can also be signs of sarcoma or other types of cancer. Fatigue often accompanies the body’s effort to combat the growing tumor and can significantly impact daily activities. 

Least Common Symptoms of Sarcomas 

While the common symptoms of sarcoma, such as persistent pain, swelling, lumps, and limited mobility, are often discussed, there are several less common symptoms that can be important indicators of this disease. These symptoms might not be immediately attributed to sarcoma, which can delay diagnosis and treatment. Here are some of the least common symptoms of sarcomas: 

  • Fever: Occasionally, sarcomas can cause an unexplained fever. This may be due to the body fighting the abnormal growth of cells within the sarcoma. 
  • Night Sweats: Some patients with sarcoma report night sweats, which can be a sign of systemic involvement. 
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: In cases of abdominal sarcoma, patients might experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These symptoms occur due to the mass effect of the tumor pressing on surrounding organs and tissues. 
  • Respiratory Problems: Sarcomas located in or near the chest area can cause difficulty breathing or a persistent cough, especially if the tumor is pressing on the lungs or other structures in the chest cavity. 
  • Anemia: Unexplained anemia, which could be due to chronic blood loss from a gastrointestinal sarcoma or the body’s reaction to the tumor, can be a rare symptom. This may lead to symptoms such as pallor, dizziness, and general weakness. 
  • Neurological Symptoms: If a sarcoma is pressing on a nerve, it could lead to neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or a loss of function in the affected area. 
  • Pathological Fractures: In some cases, sarcomas can severely weaken bone, leading to fractures with minimal or no trauma. 
  • Edema: Unexpected swelling or edema, especially in the legs or arms, can occur if the tumor interferes with normal blood flow or lymphatic drainage. 

When to Seek Care 

It is crucial to seek medical care if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, especially if they persist for several weeks without improvement. Early consultation with a healthcare provider, preferably with an oncologist, can facilitate prompt diagnosis and treatment. 

Here are some guidelines for seeking medical care: 

  • Persistent Symptoms: If you notice any persistent pain, swelling, or lumps that don’t resolve over time, book an appointment with your doctor. 
  • Growth or Changes: Any noticeable growth or changes in a lump or swelling deserve immediate medical attention. 
  • Impaired Function: If you experience difficulty moving a limb, walking, or performing normal activities due to pain or swelling, seek care. 
  • General Symptoms: Unexplained fatigue or significant weight loss should not be ignored and warrant a visit to your healthcare provider. 

Early diagnosis can make a significant difference in treatment outcomes, providing a wider range of therapeutic options and better prognoses. If you or someone you know exhibits these symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation. 

Prevalence of Sarcoma 

Sarcomas are relatively rare, accounting for approximately 1% of all adult cancers and about 15% of pediatric cancers. Each year, roughly 14,000 new cases of soft tissue sarcomas and 3,000 new cases of bone sarcomas are diagnosed in the United States. 

Current Statistics and Challenges 

According to the American Cancer Society, the estimated number of new soft tissue sarcoma cases in 2023 in the United States is expected to be around 13,400 for adults, with a slightly higher number of cases reported in males. For bone sarcomas, the statistics suggest about 3,600 new cases will be diagnosed. In children and adolescents, sarcoma represents about 20% of all cancers, highlighting its significant impact on this younger demographic. The rarity of sarcomas creates challenges in terms of research funding, awareness, and early detection, often leading to late-stage diagnoses when treatment options can be more limited. 

Age and Gender Distribution of Sarcomas 

Sarcomas are unique among cancer types because their distribution across age groups and genders varies considerably. Understanding this distribution can aid in early detection and appropriate treatment planning. Let’s go deeper into how sarcomas are distributed across different age brackets and gender groups. 

Age Distribution 

Bone Sarcomas: 

Children and Young Adults: Bone sarcomas such as osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma are predominantly seen in children, teenagers, and young adults. Osteosarcoma most commonly affects individuals aged 10 to 30, with a peak incidence during the adolescent growth spurt. Ewing sarcoma tends to affect children and young adults between 10 and 20 years old. These cancers are closely linked to periods of rapid bone growth. 

Soft Tissue Sarcomas: 

Older Adults: In contrast, soft tissue sarcomas are more typically diagnosed in older adults. The incidence of soft tissue sarcomas increases with age, peaking in people aged 55 and older. Various types of soft tissue sarcomas can occur, including but not limited to leiomyosarcoma, liposarcoma, and synovial sarcoma. 

Gender Distribution 

Sarcomas do not display a significant discrepancy between males and females in terms of prevalence. Both genders are equally susceptible to developing sarcomas, which helps streamline awareness and education efforts without the need for gender-specific strategies. 

The MaxCare Difference: Ensuring Effective and Cost-Efficient Treatment 

At MaxCare, we prioritize providing our members with the most effective and appropriate therapies while maintaining cost efficiency. Our approach ensures that every step of the patient care journey is optimized for both clinical outcomes and financial sustainability. 

Clinician-Led Approach 

Our experienced clinicians work diligently to tailor treatment plans to individual patients’ needs. By leveraging evidence-based protocols and personalized medicine, we ensure that patients receive therapies that are best suited to their specific condition. This personalized approach not only enhances treatment effectiveness but also minimizes unnecessary medical expenses. 

Comprehensive Supportive Care 

Treating sarcoma and other cancers requires more than just medication. MaxCare ensures comprehensive supportive care, including pain management, nutritional support, and psychological counseling, to empower patients throughout their treatment journey. Our holistic approach addresses the physical, emotional, and financial aspects of cancer care, fostering resilience and improving quality of life. 

Layered Approach to Cost-Effective Medications 

One of the cornerstones of MaxCare’s philosophy is our layered approach in identifying cost-effective medications. We take a detailed and strategic approach to ensure that every medication provided is both clinically validated and cost-effective for the member and the plan. This methodology involves continuous monitoring of drug efficacy, safety, and cost, ensuring optimal resource allocation. 

Commitment to Transparency 

As advocates of the pass-through PBM model, MaxCare is committed to transparency and integrity in our operations. This model ensures that all cost savings and rebates are passed directly to our clients and members, promoting trust and financial accountability. Our transparency extends to clear communication with patients and healthcare providers, fostering informed decision-making and collaboration. 

Conclusion: Embrace Sarcoma Awareness and Maximize Care 

Sarcoma Awareness Month serves as a critical reminder to educate ourselves about this rare cancer type, recognize its signs and symptoms, and appreciate the importance of early detection and effective treatment. Understanding the distinctions between primary and metastatic bone cancer, the typical locations of sarcomas, and the symptoms that necessitate medical attention can empower individuals to seek timely and appropriate care.  

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