Sometimes called the “forgotten cancer,” sarcoma only makes up approximately 1% of cancer diagnoses in adults — but about 15% of cancers in those under the age of 20, according to the National Foundation for Cancer Research. It forms in the body’s connective tissues that support, protect and give structure to other tissues and organs in the body such as bone, cartilage, fat, blood and lymphatic tissue. While there are more than 70 kinds of sarcomas, they can generally be categorized into two main groups: bone and soft tissue.
Many sarcoma patients require high doses of radiation as part of their curative treatment, and sarcoma can be an ideal candidate for proton therapy. This is a special type of radiotherapy used for cancer treatment that can spare normal tissue in the body from receiving radiation, resulting in fewer and less severe short and long-term side effects than standard radiation therapy, according to the National Association for Proton Therapy.
“The thing about radiation is that it is a nonspecific treatment, so it damages normal tissue just like it damages cancer cells,” said Nancy Mendenhall, M.D., FASTRO, medical director of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville. “Proton therapy has a better dose distribution so there is less opportunity for injury.”
To read more about the use of proton therapy, click here.