Conditions Treated

Conditions We Treat

Sarcomas occur in the body’s musculoskeletal system, in the soft tissue or the bones and joints. There are more than 50 subtypes of sarcoma, and no two patients with sarcoma are exactly alike. Sarcoma specialists have the training and experience to provide the most effective therapy possible for these tumors, which can be challenging to treat.

Some types of sarcoma are cancerous, and others are considered “benign” because they do not spread to other parts of the body. However, even benign sarcomas can be very debilitating and painful or even life-threatening, requiring highly specialized care.

At Cincinnati Children’s, our sarcoma team provides comprehensive care for children with all types of sarcoma, including those with very rare forms of the disease, recurrent tumors and treatment-resistant tumors.

Soft Tissue Sarcomas

Soft tissue sarcomas occur in connective tissues throughout the body. These connective tissues include muscle, cartilage, tendons, fat, nerves, joint tissues and blood vessels. Cancerous soft tissue sarcoma can spread to other parts of the body. Collectively, soft tissue sarcomas are relatively common. Each year, about 12,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma. About 1,000 of those are children. Learn more.

Alveolar soft part sarcoma is one of the most rare types of sarcoma. It typically occurs in the thigh or buttock, but can appear in the head and neck as well. Alveolar soft part sarcoma grows slowly, but it is likely to spread and recur.

Angiosarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in the blood vessels or the lining of the blood vessels. Angiosarcoma affects both children and adults, although it is very rare in young patients. Overall, angiosarcoma accounts for 2 percent of sarcomas, affecting approximately 600 people per year in the United States. Learn more.

Clear cell sarcoma is rare, typically affecting young adults between 20 and 40 years old. These tumors tend to grow in the deep tissues of the upper and lower limbs, including in the feet and hands. Clear cell sarcoma typically spreads to surrounding tissues, tendons, muscles and organs.

Epithelioid sarcoma typically appears in the extremities (especially in the arms and hands). It also can develop in the torso. Epithelioid sarcoma can affect both children and adults, but is most common in young adulthood. In most cases, epithelioid sarcoma does not spread. If it does spread, lymph nodes, the lungs and bones are the most common sites. Learn more.

Desmoplastic small round cell tumors (DSRCT) are rare. This type of cancer usually begins in the abdomen or pelvis, and does not respond well to treatment. The majority of patients (90 percent) are Caucasian males between the ages of 10 and 30. Learn more.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are uncommon tumors of the digestive system. They can form anywhere along the GI tract, but most commonly begin in the stomach or small intestine. GIST tumors arising in children and young adults are often distinct from those more commonly encountered in adult patients, requiring specialized therapies and surgical management.

Fibrosarcoma is rare, occurring most commonly in infants and young children under 5 years of age. This type of sarcoma most commonly affects the limbs and the torso, but it can occur anywhere. Learn more.

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors occur in the protective lining of the nerves that extend from the spinal cord into the body. These tumors can occur anywhere in the body, but are usually found in the deep tissue of the extremities or torso. They occur more commonly in people who have an inherited condition called neurofibromatosis but may also arise in otherwise healthy people.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children. It typically occurs in locations where muscle is present and is most common in children who are younger than 10. Rhabdomyosarcoma can occur throughout childhood and young adulthood, and can even be present at birth. Learn more.

Synovial sarcoma usually arises in the legs or arms but may be found virtually anywhere in the body. Despite the name, it does not necessarily occur in the synovial tissue found in the joints. About one to three people in a million are diagnosed with the disease each year. Synovial sarcoma can occur at any age, but is most common in young adults. Learn more.

Undifferentiated sarcoma is a diagnosis given when a sarcoma lacks distinctive features and cannot be classified more specifically. Learn more.

Benign Sarcomas of Skin and Bone

Unicameral bone cysts are simple, benign (non-cancerous) lesions that consist of a fluid-filled cavity in the bone. They usually occur in long bones, especially in the upper part of the humerus (upper arm) or thighbones. These cysts tend to occur in children ages 5 to 15. They do not spread but they may grow, causing problems such as a fracture or damage to the growth plate.

An aneurysmal bone cyst is a blood-filled cyst that can expand the bone, causing pain, swelling and fractures. They are not cancerous, but they can be destructive.

Chondroblastoma is a rare, benign (non-cancerous) bone tumor that occurs when a single chondroblast (cell that produces cartilage) divides out of control. It is usually found in the ends of long bones, typically in the lower extremities. Chondroblastoma is mostly likely to strike people between age 10 and 20, before bone growth is complete.

Desmoid tumors, also called aggressive fibromatosis, can occur anywhere in the body, but are often found in the extremities, torso, head and neck. Desmoid tumors arise from cells called fibroblasts, whose main function is to support and protect vital organs such as the liver and lungs. They do not spread, but they may grow and cause life-threatening problems if they compress vital organs.

A giant cell tumor of the bone is a rare, benign (non-cancerous) tumor. It usually begins near a joint at the end of the bone. This type of sarcoma is most common in young adults between the ages of 20 and 40, occurring after a person’s bone growth is complete. Giant cell tumor of the bone is typically managed by orthopedic surgery but medical management may be utilized when not amenable to surgical resection. Giant cell tumor of the bone may rarely spread to the lungs. 

Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) causes the synovium (a thin layer of tissue that lines the joints and tendons) to thicken and overgrow. The tumor that results from this overgrowth is not cancerous and does not spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. But PVNS can lead to bone damage and arthritis. It typically affects the knee, although it can affect other joints as well.

An osteoid osteoma is a small, benign (non-cancerous) tumor that usually grows in the long bones of person’s lower extremities, usually the thighbone. It can occur in the hand or in the lower part of the spine as well. These tumors do not spread, but they may grow and cause problems such as a fracture or damage to the growth plate. This type of soft tissue sarcoma is most common in teens and young adults.

Bone Sarcomas

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in children and young adults. Usually, it begins in long bones, such as the thighbone, shin bone, or the humerus (upper arm bone). It also can begin in the bones of the pelvis and skull. Osteosarcoma usually occurs in children age 10 and older. Learn more.

Ewing sarcoma occurs in bones or in the tissue around bones, and is typically found in the legs, pelvis, ribs, arms or spine. Ewing sarcoma is one of the most common forms of bone cancer in children. About 250 children are diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma each year in the United States. Ewing sarcoma may also present as a soft-tissue tumor; this is especially common in young adults. Learn more.

Chondrosarcoma is a rare, cancerous type of tumor that begins in cartilage cells. These tumors can appear in the body wherever cartilage is present. They usually begin in the bones of the limbs and pelvis, particularly the hipbone and thighbone.

Chordomas occur in the bones of the skull and spine. They usually grow slowly, but can be difficult to treat, in part because they are located near critical structures, such as the spinal cord and brainstem. Chordomas are rare, especially in children.