misc image

5 Factors That Raise Your Risk for Sarcoma

May 01, 2024

5 Factors That Raise Your Risk for Sarcoma
Sarcomas are cancers that affect bone and soft tissue. Is there any way to avoid them? Let’s explore five factors that increase your risk of these cancers.

Sarcomas are cancers that affect bone and soft tissue, such as muscles, tendons, fat, and blood vessels. With more than 70 different types of sarcoma that can occur in various locations, individualized treatment is critical for a positive prognosis. 

Like other cancer types, sarcomas develop because of DNA mutations within cells. These mutations affect the cells’ growth and development, causing them to multiply very quickly and create tumors. With time, unaddressed tumors can metastasize, which means the cancerous cells spread to other areas of your body and become much more challenging to treat. 

With so many different types of sarcoma, symptoms vary considerably. You should always let a doctor know if you experience possible sarcoma symptoms including:

  • A lump you can feel under your skin, which may or may not cause pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bones that break easily or spontaneously
  • Bone pain
  • Abdominal pain

Of course, these symptoms aren’t exclusive to sarcoma and you’ll need a detailed diagnostic evaluation to explore the possibility of cancer. Our team of world-class oncologists at Arizona Center for Cancer Care provides pioneering cancer treatments tailored to your needs, so you have the best possible chance of recovery. Simply visit our offices in Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Anthem, Peoria, Fountain Hills, Wickenburg, Apache Junction, Sun City, Sun City West, Goodyear, or Tempe, Arizona. 

Sarcomas have no clear cause, but we know of risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing sarcoma at some point in your life. Here are five of the most impactful risk factors for sarcoma:

1. Familial retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma is a type of cancer originating in the retina, which is located in the back of your eye. This type of cancer is often genetic, which means you’re more likely to get it if you have family members who’ve had it. While rare, hereditary retinoblastoma increases your risk of secondary bone or soft tissue sarcoma in the future. 

2. Neurofibromatosis type 1

Neurofibromatosis type 1 is a genetic condition that causes skin pigmentation changes and the growth of neurofibromas, which are benign tumors on or under your skin. 

People with neurofibromatosis type 1 are at an increased risk of several types of sarcoma, including a rare cancer called malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs), which originate in the protective sheaths of peripheral nerves (nerves outside the brain and spinal cord). Approximately 50% of MPNST cases occur in people with neurofibromatosis type 1.  

3. Radiation therapy for cancer

If you’ve had any type of cancer in the past, one of the most effective therapies to shrink tumors is radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-dose radiation or radioactive substances to kill cancerous cells. While it’s often a staple of cancer care, radiation therapy can increase your risk for radiation-induced sarcomas (RIS), which have an occurrence rate of 0.03-0.2% at 10 years in people who have undergone radiation therapy.  

4. Chronic swelling (lymphedema)

Lymphedema, or chronic swelling, can be the result of blockages within your lymphatic system that prevent lymph fluid from flowing out of the area. No matter the cause of your lymphedema, the condition brings with it an increased risk of angiosarcoma. Angiosarcoma is a type of sarcoma that forms along the walls of blood or lymph vessels. 

5. Exposure to some industrial chemicals and herbicides

Specific industrial chemicals and herbicides can be harmful to your health in multiple ways. Some of them, including dioxins and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), increase your likelihood of developing sarcoma cancers — especially sarcomas that originate in the liver. 

Learn more about sarcoma from our experts

To learn more about different types of sarcoma and their specific risk factors, get in touch with us today. Call your nearest Arizona for Cancer Care or request an appointment online.