Difference Between Carcinoma and Sarcoma

Cancer is a dread word today and its name is enough to petrify an individual. When someone contracts this disease, he is seen to lose his will to fight as survival rates in different types of cancers are low compared to other diseases. While common people talk in terms of cancers of various organs, medical fraternity, especially pathologists use their own terminology to refer to cancers that differentiates between cancers on the basis of the point of origin. Carcinoma and sarcoma are two different types of malignant tumors that have different points of origin and also differ in the way they spread inside the bodies of human beings.

A vast majority of cancers (more than 90%) arise from epithelial tissues and are know as carcinomas. They derive mostly from inside lining of colon, breast, and lung or prostrate. Carcinomas usually affect older sections of the society. On the other hand, sarcomas are those malignant tumors that arise from musculoskeletal system such as bones, muscle and connective tissues. Sarcomas can occur at any age and young people are also seen to be afflicted with these types of cancers. Sarcomas are however rare in comparison to carcinomas and less than 1% of total cancers are sarcomas. Sarcomas get their name from the point of origin. For example, those arising from bones are called osteosarcoma, those arising from fat are referred to as liposarcoma while those arising out of cartilages are called chondrosarcoma.

Carcinomas and sarcomas develop and spread in the body differently. Sarcomas mostly develop inside bones as opposed to other cancers that develop in other organs but spread to bones later on. One classic example is that of breast cancer (carcinoma) where after afflicting the breast, the cancer spreads to the bones of the patient. Sarcomas tend to grow in the shape of a ball and tend to push nearby structures such as arteries, nerves and veins away. Sarcomas arise from one bone and spread to other bones of the body (sometimes to lever also). On the other hand, carcinomas infiltrate all nearby structures. They easily invade nearby nerves, veins, muscles and blood cells. Carcinomas do not have a ball like mass and therefore doctors find it difficult to anticipate their spread when removing an affected organ from inside the body. Carcinomas so not arise from bones and spread only later to bones.

In brief:

• Both carcinomas and sarcomas are malignant tumors.

• While carcinomas arise from epithelial cells, sarcomas arise from musculoskeletal system

• Carcinomas are more common and more than 90% of cancers are of this type

• Sarcomas are rare and less than 1% of total types of cancers can be classifies as sarcomas.

• Carcinomas usually affect older people while sarcomas can afflict young people also.

• Carcinomas spread differently from sarcomas inside the body.