What Is the Difference Between Carcinoma and Sarcoma?

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Carcinoma cancers affect cell development in skin tissue and tissue-lined organs, such as kidneys, while sarcomas are found in bones, nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues, according to WebMD. Carcinoma triggers abnormal cell growth in some of the body’s most essential organs and often spreads rapidly, so cases are frequently diagnosed. Sarcoma is very rare, and the most common form only causes approximately one out of 100 adult cancer cases.

Carcinomas are identified by the types of cells they attack. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer and causes red patches, scarring and open sores on the skin, according to WebMD. Too much exposure to sunlight increases the risk of developing this condition. Invasive ductal carcinoma attacks the milk ducts and fatty tissue in breasts, causing redness, rashes, nipple pain and thickened skin tissue. Other forms of carcinoma affect glandular cells in the lungs, colon and prostate, while conditions such as squamous cell carcinoma often spread through the entire respiratory or digestive tract.

More than 50 varieties of sarcoma exist, and they are classified as soft tissue sarcomas or osteosarcomas, WebMD states. Radiation treatment and preexisting disorders, such as Paget’s disease and Gardner syndrome, are sarcoma risk factors. Soft tissue sarcomas sometimes appear as lumps and exert pressure on surrounding muscles or nerves in areas where they are difficult to detect, including cartilage and tendons. Osteosarcoma typically afflicts children and teens, causing tumor growth inside bones, according to the American Cancer Society. When bone tumors are not cancerous, they are often surgically removed and never spread.