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5 Fast Facts: Myths About Sarcoma

Physician Speaks to Patient

Sarcoma is a rare kind of cancer that can occur in various locations of the body.¹ Sarcoma is a general term for a broad group of cancers that begin in the bones and in the soft (also called connective) tissues (soft tissue sarcoma).¹

Sarcomas grow in tissue cells that connect or support other kinds of tissues and are most common in the bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, nerves, fat, and blood vessels. Although more than 70 types exist, sarcoma can be grouped into two main types: soft tissue sarcoma and bone sarcoma, or osteosarcoma. It is estimated that there will be over 14,000 cases of soft tissue sarcoma in the U.S. in 2022.²

While the possibility of a cancer diagnosis can be intimidating, it is important to understand the risks and warning signs. We wanted to dispel some common myths about sarcoma so that people know the facts and can hopefully prevent or successfully treat this disease.¹

Myth 1: There is no hope with stage four sarcoma
The five-year survival rate for people with locally advanced sarcoma is 56 percent. About 18 percent of sarcomas are found in a locally advanced stage. About 15 percent of sarcomas are found in a metastatic stage. The five-year survival rate for people with metastatic sarcoma is 16 percent.³ With new developments in surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, as well as new clinical trials, sarcoma patients today have a greater chance of survival, even when diagnosed with stage four sarcoma.

Myth 2: “The sarcoma diagnosis must be wrong because I have always eaten superfoods”
There is no single food that has been absolutely proven to prevent or stop any type of cancer. However, many foods show cancer-fighting properties that might reduce your chances of a cancer diagnosis. Foods of plant origin are loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, both of which help protect cells in the body. Garlic, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, and spinach are just a few of the foods that may increase your odds of avoiding cancer. It’s also recommended to not eat foods with high sodium and sugar content and try substituting lean meat and fish in place of processed meats and large helpings of red meat.⁴ For those patients who are diagnosed with sarcoma, nutrition plays an important role depending on the location of the tumor. Patients may have difficulty eating food at all. The body may not be able to access or use vital nutrients in meals and snacks. Also, to be able to manage sarcoma treatment we recommend going small. Mini, frequent meals are best. 2-3 food items every 3-5 hours help support energy and stamina. The body digests food better in small amounts. Small meals can decrease heartburn and digestive issues.⁵

Myth 3: Amputation is always necessary
Although arm or leg amputation was a common treatment for sarcoma in the past, it is rare today. Most of the time, the tumor can be removed without amputation in what is referred to as “limb-sparing surgery.” Today, amputation is only used in those cases where it’s the only way to remove the cancer or if tissue removal would result in chronic pain or a limb not functioning well.⁵ Fortunately, limb-sparing surgery is an effective way to manage over 90 percent of bone sarcoma cases, and over 75 percent of patients become long-term survivors.⁶

Myth 4: A biopsy always causes sarcoma to spread
Some cancers, like sarcoma, have thin outer capsules that can be damaged during an improperly performed biopsy. When this happens, cancer cells can spread and regrow elsewhere.⁷ While any medical procedure carries some risk, spreading sarcoma via “seeding” from a biopsy is quite rare. A review of data from four specialized care centers showed just a 0.37% risk of needle tract seeding.⁸ If exams and imaging tests indicate the possibility of sarcoma, a biopsy is critical in determining if it’s sarcoma, another type of cancer, or not even cancer at all.⁹

Myth 5: “I don’t have sarcoma because my blood tests are normal”
Soft tissue sarcoma cannot be detected through any type of blood test.¹⁰ Diagnosing and determining the stage of sarcoma is done through other methods such as physical examination, imaging tests, and biopsy.¹¹



  1. Sarcoma: Symptoms & Causes – Mayo Clinic
  2. Sarcoma – WebMD
  3. Sarcomas, Soft Tissue: Statistics – Cancer.Net
  4. Seven (Easy to Find) Foods That May Help Prevent Cancer – WebMD
  5. Sarcoma Survivors and Nutrition – Pearlpoint Nutrition Services
  6. UCLA offers limb-sparing Surgery for rare bone cancers – UCLA Health
  7. Read this before you have a biopsy – Roswell Park
  8. Needle tract seeding after percutaneous biopsy of sarcoma: Risk/benefit considerations – Pubmed.Gov
  9. Tests for Soft Tissue Sarcomas – American Cancer Society
  10. Soft Tissue Sarcomas: Blood Tests – Cancer Research UK
  11. Sarcoma: Diagnosis & Treatment – Mayo Clinic
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