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Sarcoma

Sarcoma doctor
UK Markey Cancer Center orthopaedic oncologist Patrick O'Donnell, MD.

A sarcoma is an uncommon type of cancer that starts in bones, blood vessels, nerves or soft tissues, such as deep skin tissue, fat, fibrous tissue and muscle. Sarcoma usually originates in your arms or legs, but it can also be found in your head, neck, torso, internal organs and the area in the back of your abdominal cavity, or belly, called the retroperitoneum.

Sarcoma at UK Markey Cancer Center

Markey's sarcoma team provides expert consultation and ongoing care for patients with sarcoma.

Each patient is cared for by a team of specialists who meet regularly to discuss individual patient cases and treatment plans. This multidisciplinary team will work with you and your doctor to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.

Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 30 years, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to clinical care, this unique team of physicians and researchers is currently pursuing research in cancer immunotherapy, advanced tumor imaging, biomedical engineering of bone-like substances and clinical trials – all dedicated toward improved patient-centered care.

  • Symptoms

    About half the time, soft tissue sarcoma usually begins in the arm or leg as a lump that grows over time. It may or may not hurt. About 40 percent of the time, it starts in the stomach or bowels, where it can cause bleeding or blockages. Sarcoma can eventually grow large enough that you can feel it on the outside of your belly. Less often, sarcomas start on your head or neck.

    Signs to watch for include:

    • Abdominal pain that gets worse over time
    • A new lump that gets larger over time
    • Black, sticky bowel movements
    • Blood in your stool or vomit

    Bone sarcomas have different symptoms:

    • A bone that breaks for no known reason
    • Pain in a bone or joint
    • Swelling over a bone or bony part of the body
  • Survival rates

    According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for a sarcoma that has not spread to the rest of the body is 81%. When it has spread to nearby regions of the body, the survival rate is 56%. When it has metastasized — spreading throughout the body — the survival rate is 15%.

  • Prevention

    You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:

    • Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
    • Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
    • Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
    • Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.
  • Risk factors

    Risk factors for sarcoma include:

    • A certain change in the RB1 gene
    • Associated conditions that include Bloom syndrome, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, hereditary retinoblastoma, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Paget’s disease, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome or Werner syndrome
    • Past chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments
  • Your first visit/what to expect

    • For your first visit, you will be directed to the Multidisciplinary Clinic on the first floor of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building
    • You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
    • Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
    • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
    • To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.
  • Clinical trials

    Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. 

    At UK Markey Cancer Center, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat cancer – one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.

    Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating sarcomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

  • Locations

    Clinics

    Multidisciplinary Clinic

    Whitney Hendrickson Building

    UK Markey Cancer Center

    Whitney-Hendrickson Building
    800 Rose St.
    First Floor
    Lexington, KY 40536

    A parking lot is located near the Whitney-Hendrickson Building, accessible via Hospital Drive. Get directions to Whitney-Hendrickson.