Sarcoma Risk Factors

Sarcoma risk factors are any characteristics – either inherited or acquired – that can make an individual more likely to develop sarcoma during his or her lifetime. Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean that a person will be diagnosed with cancer. However, it does mean that it is particularly important to pay attention to one’s overall health and report any unusual changes to a physician. In the unlikely event that a person does develop a sarcoma, prompt diagnosis and treatment can improve his or her outcome.

The primary risk factors for sarcoma include:

  • Having an inherited syndrome, such as hereditary retinoblastoma or familiar adenomatous polyposis, that can increase a person’s risk of developing soft tissue sarcoma. Other genetic syndromes that are associated with an elevated soft tissue sarcoma risk include Li-Fraumeni syndrome, neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis and Werner syndrome.
  • Sustaining long-term, high-dose exposure to certain carcinogens, such as herbicides, chlorophenols, arsenic, vinyl chloride and dioxin.
  • Receiving radiation therapy (ionizing radiation) for a previous illness or cancer. Radiation exposure from routine X-rays and other diagnostic imaging scans generally does not increase a person’s risk of developing sarcoma.
  • Having a damaged lymphatic system or lymphedema, in which fluid collects in the tissues and causes swelling.

In the past, it was believed that soft tissue injuries could make a person more likely to develop a sarcoma. However, ongoing research has shown that injuries – along with lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise – are not correlated with an increased sarcoma risk.

Through ongoing research studies, Moffitt Cancer Center is leading the way in sarcoma research, discovering more information about risk factors and treatment options almost every day. Our unique bench-to-bedside approach means that as soon as we discover a new treatment option, diagnostic technique or potential risk factor, we can implement that knowledge to expand our offerings and improve each patient’s quality of life.

Moffitt’s oncologists can provide you with additional information about sarcoma risk factors, and referrals are not required to make an appointment. To learn more, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.