Sarcomas are cancers that start in bones, muscles, connective tissues, blood vessels or fat, and can be found anywhere in the body. There are more than 50 different types of sarcoma, which fall into two main categories: bone cancers and soft tissue cancers.
- An estimated 12,750 new cases of soft tissue sarcomas and 3,500 new cases of bone cancers will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2019, with around 6,930 deaths expected to result from the diagnoses.
- Sarcomas are rare in adults and make up approximately 1% of all adult cancer diagnoses.
- Sarcomas are relatively more common among children. Between 1,500 and 1,700 children are diagnosed with a bone or soft tissue sarcoma in the U.S. each year. This makes up about 15% of cancers in children under the age of 20
- The overall relative five-year survival rate for people with soft tissue sarcoma is around 65% and for people with bone cancer, the overall relative five-year survival rate is 70%
- When the sarcoma starts in an arm or leg, the five-year survival rates are slightly higher for each stage when compared with sarcoma that starts in other locations.
Source: American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2019, Sarcoma Alliance and the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Cancer.net website
In addition to specific projects listed below, genomics research is helping us attack sarcoma – and all types of cancer. NFCR has distinguished itself from other organizations by emphasizing long-term, transformative research and working to move people toward cancer genomics.
Dr. Web Cavenee has fundamentally changed the way scientists now think about the onset of cancer and its progression. He provided the first indisputable evidence of the existence of tumor suppressor genes.
He and his team have developed a high-throughput CHIP-NextGen sequencing method to identify miRNAs that drive the development of aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of soft-tissue sarcoma that has a poor prognosis and is most common in young adults and teenagers.
Dr. Wei Zhang has devoted his entire career to the pursuit of precision oncology – specifically to the key molecular and genomic events that drive the development and progression of cancer. Over the last 18 years, Dr. Zhang has identified multiple novel cancer markers and oncogenic signaling molecules, including targets for the treatment of a soft tissue sarcoma that develops from tissues surrounding nerves called malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST). Results have provided evidence that the tyrosine kinase receptor pathway is a potential therapeutic target for patients with MPSNT.