Pediatric Sarcomas: About Pediatric Sarcomas

Sarcomas are cancers that can arise in bone, muscle, or connective tissue throughout the body. They can affect children, adolescents, and young adults, even up to age 40.

There are several subtypes of pediatric sarcomas, including:

  • Osteosarcoma, which arises in bone
  • Ewing sarcoma, which involves bone or soft tissue
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, which affects muscles
  • Desmoplastic small round cell tumor, which involves soft tissue
  • Other rarer types of sarcomas, which can arise from tendons, nerves, or blood vessels

The symptoms of these cancers depend on the type and location of the tumors.

Our doctors treat sarcomas based on their stage, or how far the tumor has spread throughout the body. Tumors are staged using a variety of different imaging techniques – such as CT, MRI, or bone/PET scans. Other procedures used to stage a tumor include examining the bone marrow and/or performing a lumbar puncture. Staging helps determine the treatment plan used for each patient with pediatric sarcoma.

For osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma, the staging system is based on the grade of the tumor, the site of the primary tumor, and whether the tumor has spread. For rhabdomyosarcoma, the staging system is based on the primary site of the tumor, the size of the tumor, whether the tumor has spread, the way the tumor looks under the microscope, and the extent of initial surgery at the time of diagnosis.

Other staging systems may be used for the rarer sarcomas that we treat at Memorial Sloan Kettering.