Social Security Disability and Sarcoma

Definition of Sarcoma

Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer which develops in different body tissues such as nerves, muscles, and bones. There are over 50 types of sarcoma, but they can be separated into two main categories: soft tissue sarcoma and bone sarcoma.


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Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcoma develops in deep skin tissue, fat, nerves, fibrous tissues and blood vessels. Most soft tissue sarcoma begins in the arms or legs, but it can show up anywhere in the body. This cancer results in tumors developing throughout may parts of the body.

But not all tumors have cancer. If a tumor doesn’t have cancer, it is known as a ‘benign’ tumor. If it does have cancer, it is ‘malignant’. There are several types of soft tissue sarcoma tumors. They include:

  • Fat tissue tumors
    • These usually develop in the thigh but can appear in the abdominal cavity, as well as by the knee. If the cancer has not spread to other organs, it can be treated with surgery to remove the tumors.
  • Joint tissue tumors
    • Joint tissue tumors can begin in the synovium—the tough tissue that wraps around our joints to protect them. The synovium also produces a liquid that keeps the joints slick, allowing them to bend easily.
    • Synovial sarcoma is specifically associated with a tumor that has affected the tissue around the joints. It is more common in children and is usually found in the ankle or knee (it is sometimes found in the shoulder and hip)
  • Peripheral nerve tissue tumors
    • Tumors can start in the peripheral nerves. These are the nerves that start from you spinal cord and branch throughout your body.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST)
    • These usually begin in the digestive system, specifically the cells which form the muscles that push your food through your digestive tract.
  • Fibrous tissue tumors
    • These tumors grow in the fibrous tissues that create tendons and ligaments.
  • Blood vessels tumors
    • Angiosaroma forms in the inner lining of the blood vessels. It is usually linked to radiation exposure.
    • Tumors that form in the blood vessels can also cause Kaposi Sarcoma. This sarcoma affects individuals with weak immune systems.
  • Muscle tissue tumors
    • Leiomyosarcoma develops in smooth muscle. It can be found in the organs, blood vessels and the back of the abdominal cavity.
    • Rhabdomysosarcomas are tumors found in skeletal muscles (the muscles that you can control and use for movement). They can most commonly be found in the arms or legs; they may also occur in the neck region and in reproductive organs.

Bone Sarcoma

Bone tissue is constantly being created and broken down in our bodies. The marrow inside our bones—a mixture of fat cells and blood cells—is responsible fore mkaing bone tissue. It is also vulnerable to cancerous growths.

There are several types of tumors that are associated with bone sarcoma:

  • Chondrosaroma
    • This cancer begins in cartilage cells. It can develop in any of your bones. The most common locations include the pelvis, arm or leg.
    • The progression and severity are measured by grades. The grade classifies how fast it is growing. The lower the grade, the slower it is growing.
  • Giant cell tumor of bone
    • This tumor usually begins in the leg, near the knees. It has also been found in the arm bones.
    • Once removed surgically, it tends to come back where it first started and then begin to affect other areas.
  • Osteosarcoma
    • This is the most common type of bone cancer.
    • The tumors typically develop in the arms, legs and pelvis.

Sarcoma and Social Security Benefits

To qualify for disability benefits, you must meet the Social Security disability listing for sarcoma. The listings include:

  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma
    • Must have medical evidence that proves that there is regional metastates or distant mestates
    • The cancer develops even after antineoplastic therapy
  • Skeletal System Sarcoma
    • Must have medical evidence that proves that the tumor has come back or you cannot operate on it

If your diagnosed sarcoma does not meet the above standards, don’t dismiss your claim. If you feel that you cannot work your job (need constant breaks, can’t lift heavy objects, etc.) because of your disease, the SSA will consider your application.


Photo Credit: Yale Rosen via Creative Commons