5 Things to Know About Bone Cancer and Sarcoma Awareness Month

July is recognized as Bone Cancer and Sarcoma Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness about these rare and challenging forms of cancer in children. Sarcoma and bone cancer can have a devastating impact on the lives of young patients and their families, causing physical and emotional challenges that extend far beyond the diagnosis itself. 

Unlike many other types of cancer, which are more commonly seen in adults, sarcoma and bone cancer predominantly affect the pediatric population. These malignancies arise in the connective tissues, including bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, posing significant hurdles in diagnosis and treatment. The rarity and complexity of these cancers require specialized care, multidisciplinary approaches, and a deep understanding of the specific challenges faced by young patients.

Here are 5 things you should know about these rare childhood cancers and ways you can help support the children and families affected.

1. Survival Rates Vary

Survival rates for sarcoma and bone cancer depend on various factors, including the type and stage of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for soft tissue sarcomas is 65.8 percent, while it is slightly higher at 68.9 percent for bone and joint sarcomas.1 These rates drop significantly based on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. Early detection and timely treatment play a crucial role in improving survival rates.

2. There are Challenges in Distinguishing Childhood Bone Cancer and Sarcoma

Sarcomas, especially those found within organs, can be challenging to distinguish from other types of cancer. As a result, the incidence of sarcomas is likely underestimated. The National Cancer Institute acknowledges the difficulty in accurately determining the prevalence of sarcomas due to their resemblance to other cancers within organs. 

Diagnosing bone cancer in children can also be complex due to several factors. First, bone cancers in children are relatively rare, making them less familiar to healthcare professionals. This lack of familiarity may lead to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Moreover, bone cancers can present with symptoms that overlap with other less severe conditions, such as bone fractures or infections. This similarity in symptoms can further complicate the diagnostic process. Additionally, imaging techniques like X-rays or MRI scans may not always provide definitive results, requiring additional tests, such as biopsies, to confirm the presence of bone cancer.

3. These Rare Childhood Cancers Have a Risk of Secondary Cancers

Standard childhood bone cancer and sarcoma treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can cause lasting effects in patients. Surgery may result in pain, limited mobility, or limb length problems, requiring rehabilitation and physical therapy. Chemotherapy can lead to temporary or long-term complications such as fatigue, nausea, hair loss, a weakened immune system, and an increased risk of infections. Radiation therapy may cause skin irritation, fatigue, and long-term effects such as impaired bone growth. These side effects vary in severity and duration, and healthcare professionals must closely monitor and manage them to minimize their impact on the child’s well-being.

Survivors of sarcoma and bone cancer face the risk of developing secondary cancers later in life. These secondary cancers may include stomach cancer, thyroid cancer, melanoma, and acute myeloid leukemia. The reasons behind this increased risk are not entirely clear, but it is believed to be related to the effects of previous cancer treatments, genetic factors, or other unknown causes. Regular follow-up visits and screenings are essential to detect any potential secondary cancers early.

4. There May Be a Connection to Inherited Disorders

Both bone cancer and sarcoma in children can be associated with certain inherited disorders. In the case of bone cancer, children with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare genetic condition caused by mutations in the TP53 gene, have an increased risk of developing osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer.2 Additionally, children with hereditary retinoblastoma, a genetic eye cancer, may be prone to developing bone tumors, including osteosarcoma.3 As for sarcoma, inherited disorders such as neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a genetic condition that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome can increase the risk of developing soft tissue sarcomas in children.4

Genetic counseling and regular check-ups are recommended for individuals with these inherited disorders to monitor their health closely and detect any signs of sarcoma and bone cancer at an early stage.

5. Ways to Raise Bone Cancer and Sarcoma Awareness 

Raising awareness about childhood sarcoma and bone cancer is essential to promote early detection, research advancements, and support for affected families. Here are some ways you can contribute to bone cancer and sarcoma awareness

  • Educate: Learn about pediatric sarcoma and bone cancer signs, symptoms, and risk factors. Share this knowledge to promote early recognition and intervention.

  • Get involved: Participate in events like walks, seminars, or social media campaigns, and wear a sarcoma awareness ribbon to show your support.

  • Advocate: Write to local representatives and policymakers, urging increased funding for research to improve treatment options, outcomes, and quality of life.

  • Donate: Make a difference by donating to pediatric cancer organizations that invest in research and provide vital resources to families. 

Solving Kids’ Cancer is dedicated to investing in groundbreaking studies and clinical trials, aiming to unlock new treatment options and improve survival rates for children with rare childhood cancers like sarcoma and bone cancer. Some of the latest research in bone cancer and sarcoma explore revolutionary approaches, including harnessing the power of the immune system through immunotherapy

When you give to Solving Kids’ Cancer, you help fuel life-saving research initiatives, providing better outcomes and transforming the lives of children battling these challenging diseases — because every kid deserves to grow up.


1 July is Sarcoma and Bone Cancer Awareness Month – https://www.aacr.org/patients-caregivers/awareness-months/sarcoma-and-bone-cancer-awareness-month/
2 A higher than expected fraction of adolescent osteosarcoma patients carry a gene mutation that is often inherited – https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/osteosarcoma-tp53-inherited-gene-mutation-adolescents
3 Osteosarcoma – Childhood and Adolescence: Risk Factors – https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/osteosarcoma-childhood-and-adolescence/risk-factors
4 Sarcomas Associated With Genetic Cancer Predisposition Syndromes: A Review – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4978564/


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