WHAT IS SARCOMA?
Sarcoma is cancer of supporting tissues of our body, this includes bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, nerves and blood vessels. There are many types of sarcoma, which are grouped into bone sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas.
CANCER RESEARCH UK’s impact
on past sarcoma research
Cancer Research UK helped develop a drug used for gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs)
Cancer Research UK researchers helped develop imatinib (Gleevec), one of the first targeted cancer drugs.
Today this drug is used around the world to treat advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) – a type of sarcoma.
Imatinib (Gleevec) can control the growth of GISTs for several years or more, improving survival for patients around the world.
Cancer Research UK helped improve synovial sarcoma diagnosis
Cancer Research UK scientists identified two genes which are often faulty in people with synovial sarcoma – a type of sarcoma that most commonly affects children.
These genes are changed in a specific way that helps doctors diagnose this disease.
Cancer Research UK showed how a virus causes Kaposi’s sarcoma
Cancer Research UK scientists first suggested a link between the virus HHV8 and Kaposi’s sarcoma. Their later research then showed how HHV8 causes Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Kaposi’s sarcoma is a type of sarcoma that affects people with a weakened immune system, such as those with HIV.
This finding provides scientists with a new target for treatments.
CANCER RESEARCH UK’s work
in sarcoma today
Cancer Research UK are exploring the best treatment options for children and adults with rhabdomyosarcoma
Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of sarcoma in children, although it also affects young people and adults.
At the University of Birmingham, Dr Meriel Jenney is leading a clinical trial called FaR-RMS, which is investigating whether various changes to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment work better than the current treatments.
Ultimately the findings of this study could help doctors tailor treatments to each patient, improving the outlook and quality of life for people with rhabdomyosarcoma.
Cancer Research UK are using artificial intelligence to improve therapy for sarcoma
Dr Robin Jones is developing tools to pinpoint which people with soft tissue sarcoma will benefit from chemotherapy before their tumour is surgically removed.
This chemotherapy could reduce the chance of a person’s cancer returning. But soft tissue sarcoma can behave differently in different people, and researchers have been unsure which groups of people the additional chemotherapy would help.
Dr Jones is gathering detailed data about thousands of people’s sarcomas and is using artificial intelligence to find patterns that signify which people would benefit from chemotherapy. This resource could be used by many other researchers to improve treatment for people with sarcoma.
Cancer Research UK are finding the best treatment for gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs)
Dr Venkata Bulusu is leading a clinical trial for gastrointestinal stromal tumours, a type of sarcoma.
These cancers are normally surgically removed, and patients are given the drug imatinib for up to three years to stop the cancer returning.
This trial is testing whether patients would benefit more from taking imatinib for five years after surgery.
If successful, this could become the new gold standard treatment for GIST and allow patients to live longer.