Pa. House approves Bizzarro measure promoting sarcoma awareness

HARRISBURG, May 17 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has unanimously adopted a resolution authored by state Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, designed to educate and raise awareness of undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma, a type of soft tissue sarcoma.

“Many people haven’t heard of undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma, which is one of about 50 different types of sarcomas,” Bizzarro said. “I was personally made aware of this type of cancer by a family in my legislative district, who is fighting an aggressive case of this disease. We want to raise awareness about this disease so we can help this family in any way that we can, and we especially want to make older adults aware of undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma as they are the ones usually affected by this cancer. I want to thank my colleagues for their support of this measure and their continued efforts to help fight cancer in Pennsylvania.”

Bizzarro’s H.R. 684 notes that undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma develops from soft tissues like fat, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, or deep skin or fibrous tissues. It is often found in the arms or legs, but it can also form inside at the back of the abdomen. Symptoms include swelling or a lump that has grown over a period of time, abdominal pain, blood in stool or vomit and black, tarry stools. The disease is usually treated with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Though scientists have not determined the exact cause of most cases of soft tissue sarcoma, they have identified certain risk factors making a person more likely to develop the disease, including radiation, a damaged lymph system, certain family cancer syndromes and exposure to certain chemicals.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 11,930 new soft tissue sarcomas were diagnosed in the United States in 2015, and approximately 4,870 Americans died from the disease last year.