Week 28: Sarcoma

Sarcomas arise from the connective tissue of the body – the fat, cartilage, bone, nerve tissue and blood vessels. They are rare with approximately 1000 – 2000 patients diagnosed with such a tumour every year in the UK.

1. In what age groups are osteosarcomas most prevalent?

These tumours are commonest in teenagers and young adults. Boys are more commonly affected than girls and they develop in growing bones, such as the lower or upper limbs, most frequently around the knee.

This x-ray here shows the typical features of an osteosarcoma in the knee.

They can also occur in elderly patients who have a background of Paget’s disease.

2. What are the risk factors for developing a sarcoma?

i) Pagets disease as above for osteosarcoma.

ii) Previous irradiation (secondary sarcomas occur in patients who have received XRT for a previous cancer e.g. breast)

iii) Immunodeficiency for Kaposi’s sarcoma

iv) Genetic abnormalities such as EWS gene being fused to the FL1 gene by a translocation between Chromosome 11 and 22

v) unknown for many.

3. Where do leiomyosarcomas most frequently present?

They develop from the smooth muscle in the body, i.e. the involuntary muscle. These muscles are in the heart, stomach, uterus and walls of blood vessels, and hence can arise almost anywhere. The commonest sites are uterus, stomach and limbs.

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