Types of Sarcoma in Children

A sarcoma is a cancer that develops in bone or soft tissue, such as muscles, tendons, and connective tissue. Childhood sarcomas can be found anywhere in the body but most often in a child’s arms, legs, chest, and abdomen. Sometimes sarcomas spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs.

Childhood Ewing Sarcoma

Ewing sarcoma is a rare cancer that grows in bone or the soft tissue that surrounds bone. When this type of cancer starts in the soft tissue and the muscles around bones, it is called extraosseous Ewing sarcoma. It is found most often in the center of the body, in the pelvis, vertebrae, and chest, but it can also appear in any bone including those in the legs, arm, spine, hands, feet, and skull. It can affect the muscle and tissue around the tumor, and it can spread to the lungs, other bones, and bone marrow. 

Named after the first doctor to describe the cancer in the 1920s, Ewing sarcoma usually develops during puberty, but it can occur in younger children and in adults. 

Childhood Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcomas typically occur in the “long bones,” the large bones of the arms and legs. It is the most common type of bone cancer in children and young adults, and it typically occurs around the time of growth spurts. It can spread to the lungs and other bones beyond the initial tumor site. 

Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancerous tumor arising from muscle or from the primitive tissue or cells that form skeletal muscles. Most people diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma are under age 25; two-thirds are younger than age 10 years at the time of diagnosis. It is the most common soft tissue tumor in children. Symptoms vary and depend on the location of the tumor but it often appears as a painless lump. 

There are two main subtypes found in children: embryonal, which is most common in infants, and alveolar, which is most common in adolescents. Alveolar tumors often need more intense treatment.

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