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Sarcoma Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention

Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that starts in the tissues of the body. The expert team at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is committed to providing personalized cancer care for our sarcoma patients throughout your treatment and recovery.

What Causes Sarcoma?

The exact causes of sarcoma are largely unknown. Family history, certain genetic disorders, radiation therapy and other risk factors can increase your risk of developing sarcoma.

What are the Risk Factors for Sarcoma?

From the most common types, like soft tissue sarcomas, to the rarest, including Ewing and Kaposi, the exact causes of sarcoma are unknown. Gender does not influence your chances of developing sarcoma, but studies have found that osteosarcoma is more common among males.

The following are some of the risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing soft tissue sarcoma and osteosarcoma:

  • Exposure to radiation, perhaps during treatment for a different type of cancer
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • A family history of sarcoma or other genetic disorders, including neurofibromatosis, Gardner syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Werner syndrome, Gorlin syndrome, retinoblastoma or tuberous sclerosis
  • Having Paget’s disease, a bone disorder
  • Chronic swelling, also known as lymphedema
  • Exposure to human herpesvirus 8

How Can I Prevent Sarcoma?

Currently, there is no known way to prevent sarcoma. Avoiding exposure to risk factors whenever possible is an option, but most sarcomas develop in people with no known risk factors.

Not everyone with these risk factors develop sarcoma. If you have any risk factors, discuss them with your doctor at Banner MD Anderson.

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