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Abstract: Sarcomas are tumors of mesenchymal origin that make up approximately 1% of human cancers. They may arise as primary tumors in either bone or soft tissue, with approximately 11,280 soft tissue tumors and 2,650 bone tumors diagnosed each year in the United States. There are at least 50 different subtypes of soft tissue sarcoma, with new ones described with ever-increasing frequency. One way to look at sarcomas is to divide them into categories on the basis of their genetic make-up. One group of sarcomas has an identifiable, relatively simple genetic signature, such as the X:18 translocation seen in synovial sarcoma or the 11:22 translocation seen in Ewing's sarcoma. These specific abnormalities often lead to the presence of fusion proteins, such as EWS-FLI1 in Ewing's sarcoma, which are helpful as diagnostic tools and may become therapeutic targets in the future. Another group of sarcomas is characterized by complex genetic abnormalities as seen in leiomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and undifferentiated sarcoma. It is important to keep these distinctions in mind when contemplating the development of targeted agents for sarcomas. Different abnormalities in sarcoma could be divided by tumor subtype or by the molecular or pathway abnormality. However, some existing drugs or drugs in development may interfere with or alter more than one of the presented pathways.
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