Sarcoma: Greater awareness key to early diagnosis

This is a post by Dr. Nancy McAllister, a pediatric oncologist in Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinic. She treats patients with sarcomas, and she focuses on children with head and neck cancers. She’s also a clinical partner to the Karen Wyckoff Rein in Sarcoma Foundation. The foundation will throw their 12th annual Party in the Park on July 23 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Como Park in St. Paul.

Dr. Nancy McAllister

Sarcoma is a type of cancer that occurs in a variety of tissues. It can show up in nerves, muscles, joints, bone, fat and blood vessels. Because these tissues are found everywhere in the body, sarcomas can occur anywhere. They can be found in people of all ages, from young children to adults. In fact, fifteen percent of children and adolescents with cancer suffer from sarcomas. The majority of sarcomas in this age group are one of three types: Rhabdomyosarcomas, Osteosarcomas and Ewing’s sarcomas.

Sarcomas most frequently occur in the limbs. They may be hidden deep in the body so often they’re large by the time they’re diagnosed. Delay in diagnosis can create tumors that are more difficult to treat, so early recognition of these tumors is critical. In order to get a proper diagnosis, a surgeon with expertise in cancer surgery needs to do a biopsy.

Unfortunately, patients and doctors often miss signs of sarcomas or mistake them for something harmless. In an effort to increase awareness around sarcomas, Children’s is participating in the Rein in Sarcoma Foundation’s Party in the Park on July 23 at Como Park in St. Paul.

The Rein in Sarcoma Foundation and their Party in the Park help raise awareness about sarcomas and encourages families and medical providers to be especially aware of lumps.

Did you know…

People experiencing the following symptoms should be evaluated by a medical professional familiar with sarcomas as soon as possible:

  • Any lump or bump, 2 inches or greater in size
  • Deep lumps that increase in size
  • Pain, anywhere in the body, that isn’t explained by injury or increased activity that worsens or lasts longer than a month

At Children’s, we have several pediatric oncologists who can evaluate patients with the above symptoms:

Dr. Julie Chu, Dr. Jawhar Rawwas, Dr. Susan Sencer, Dr. KrisAnn Schultz and myself. We’re dedicated to diagnosing sarcomas early and treating children with sarcomas in the best way possible.

To read more about Dr. McAllister’s involvement with Rein in Sarcoma, click here. For more information about the Party in the Park, click here.





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