It may be a type of cancer that you have not heard of, but for the over 50,000 people of all ages who are currently struggling with some type of sarcoma, it is very real. That is why foundations and organizations in the United States and Europe dedicated to eliminating sarcoma have designated July 4-10 as Sarcoma Awareness Week. Most have only a few goals in mind, mainly to increase awareness of sarcoma, keep sarcoma patients informed, and to offer support to sarcoma patients and families. While not officially recognized on the American Cancer Society calendar, the Sarcoma Alliance and Sarcoma Foundation of America have sponsored petitions to the White House to get it officially “on the books.” In the meantime, they continue to plan events and push their message out to the public.
For Sarcoma Awareness Week, organizers ask everyone to find out what sarcoma is and to tell some friends. Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that is different from the carcinomas that we normally hear about, like breast cancer or lung cancer. They grow in connective tissues like the bones, muscle, tendons, fat, lymph vessels, blood vessels, nerves, and tissue around the joints. Although all ages can develop the disease, it is more common in children, representing about 15% of all the childhood cancers. Most sarcomas are the soft tissue variety and they start in the arm or leg. You may find a lump or swelling, but sometimes there are no warnings until the tumor causes pain from crushing a nerve.
Sarcoma awareness helps increase individual donations to various cancer research efforts to find a cure for the disease. It also helps motivate groups to hold fundraising events like 5K runs and car shows which not only raise needed funds for sarcoma research, but also bring knowledge of the disease and its effects to local communities.
Knowing the variety of treatment options is important for those struggling with sarcoma. There are at least 50 types of soft tissue sarcoma, and they are all treated differently, so it is important that you contact an oncologist for treatment options. There are also many clinical trials that patients should know about and they are listed on many of the various associations’ websites. Some of the treatment options are similar to other types of cancer, including:
- Radiation, before and/or after surgery
- Targeted Drug Therapy
Finally, Sarcoma Awareness Week aims to make sure patients and their families can access support networks to help make it easier to go through the arduous cancer battle. Both the Sarcoma Alliance and the Sarcoma Foundation of America have many resources for patients about treatment, clinical trials, and discussion boards. They can help you find peers who are struggling with the same type of sarcoma.
We hope you will join Alaska CyberKnife Center in recognizing Sarcoma Awareness Week in Anchorage and throughout Alaska. Our cancer treatment center provides clinically proven radiation treatment Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) for sarcoma and many other types of cancer. CyberKnife is a unique system that combines a flexible robotic arm with exceptional imaging software to direct beams of high-dose radiation to your exact tumor location, limiting radiation exposure to surrounding structures. Call our cancer experts at (907) 312-2112 with any questions you have about sarcoma or how CyberKnife may be the best treatment option for your cancer.