Sarcoma Cancer

Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that can be seen in children and adults. It can affect almost anywhere in the body, there are currently 50 different types of sarcomas and they affect connective tissue, which are cells that support other kinds of tissue in the body. Sarcomas are typically split into two sections:

  • – Soft Tissue Sarcoma
  • – Osteosarcoma
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Soft tissue cancer

Soft tissue sarcomas account for 1 in every 100 cancer diagnosed in the UK each year, the number of people diagnosed with this increased by more than 3,000 new cases each year.

Soft tissue sarcoma develops in soft tissues anywhere in the body. If not treated, the cancer cells with multiple and grow, this causes a lump in the soft tissues which can be dangerous. In some cases the sarcoma cells from the original area may break off and spread to other parts of the body, they can also get into the bloodstream; this causes new sarcoma areas within the body known as secondary cancer or metastases. They are more commonly known to spread to the lungs and sometimes spread to the bones making them harder to treat. As sarcomas can develop anywhere in the body, they may be difficult to spot, the soft-tissues sarcomas develop in are:

  • – Muscle (leiomyosarcomas)
  • – Cartilage
  • – Tendons & Ligaments
  • – Nerves
  • – Fat (Liposarcomas)
  • – Blood & lymph vessels (Angiosarcomas)
  • – Deep skin tissues
  • – Tissues around the joints
  • – Tissues surrounding the digestive system (Gastrointestinal stromal tumours) GISTs


Osteosarcoma is a rare cancer of the bone or ‘primary bone cancer’; it’s currently the most common type of bone cancer in children and young children.

Cancer develops if one cell within the bone becomes abnormal then continues to grow out of control into a tumour. Any bone in the body can develop cancer, but it’s usually seen more often in the arms or legs, mainly seen in the knee.

Sarcoma Cancer Causes

Although it’s not clear why this type of cancer occurs, there are certain circumstances that can put you at higher risk of developing the disease, such as:


Although anyone can develop Sarcomas at any age, soft-tissue sarcoma is usually seen more often in people over the age of 65+, this account for 40% of people affected.

Currently, 10% of children and young people will receive a diagnosis each year for soft tissue sarcoma, occurring more in children aged 4 or under.


If you’ve had radiotherapy in the past to treat a different cancer, or have had exposure to radiation, this could increase your chances of developing the disease at a later date.

Previous cancer

If you’ve had cancer before, you have a higher chance of developing soft-tissue sarcoma. People who’ve had cancer as a child are at the highest risk of developing soft tissue sarcomas.


Certain genes can increase the chances of developing cancer. These genes are neurofibromatosis type 1, retinoblastoma, Li Fraumeni syndrome.

Chemical exposure

Although this hasn’t been proven, certain chemicals have thought to increase soft tissue sarcoma.

Umbilical or inguinal hernias

Many children who are born with a hernia of the belly button or a hernia at the top of the leg are around 3 times more likely to develop Ewing’s sarcoma.


Over-weight people especially women seem more prone to developing sarcoma of soft tissues. Very overweight women have shown an increase of sarcomas in the womb compared to women of a healthy weight.

  • Signs and symptoms

Usually, there are no symptoms in early stages, but as both types of sarcomas can develop anywhere in the body, they can offer a wide range of symptoms when they do occur. The main symptoms being:

  • – Pain in the area where the tumour is located
  • – A lump that can’t be explained

If the tumour is near stomach it can cause:

  • – Tummy pain
  • – Constipation
  • – Feeling full more often

If a tumour is near the lung, the common symptoms are:

  • – Coughing
  • – Breathlessness
  • – Reoccurring chest infections

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If your doctor thinks there’s a chance you have cancer, you will receive a referral for tests to investigate the problem. If the tests confirm you have cancer, the next part of the diagnostic will be your doctor looking into the severity of the cancer by looking at:

  • – Stage of cancer-
  • – If the cancer has spread –
  • – The grade of cancer –
  • – How advanced the cancer –

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