To our patients, their loved ones, and our community,
As we honor Sarcoma Awareness Month, I want to write to share a few words of hope and some updates from our lab. Sarcomas are groups of cancers that occur in the body’s connective tissues. This means that when bones, muscles, fat, vessels, or nerves become cancerous, they produce a sarcoma. Sarcomas themselves are rare: they add up to only 1% of all cancers. And because they’re unusual, sarcomas are sometimes left off of lists of cancer altogether.
Despite their rarity and general lack of public recognition, we at the KB Jones Lab place sarcomas at the center of our research. Though they are uncommon (and perhaps because they are uncommon), sarcomas have played a huge role in helping us understand all cancers and develop treatments for them.
For instance, sarcomas were front and center in the discovery of the genetic basis for cancers of all types. They were also central to the research that uncovered how the immune system and cancer interact. Because they are scarce, sarcomas played a big role in the discovery of cancer genetics: when a disease that happens to just a few people out of a million happens more than once in one family, it stands out.
Our work at Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Sarcoma Disease Center builds on the fact that sarcoma research has advanced all cancer research. We are currently focused on exposing the way epigenetics—or how a cell’s genes are turned on or off—can drive or stop cancer.
The Schiffman Lab is trying to address a genetic deficiency in many cancer cells by providing another protein to turn many downstream pathways on and off. The Cairns Lab and Jones Lab study how genes are packaged in a cancer cell to impact their active or silenced state.
As we continue to research sarcomas, we also recognize the challenge they present: the more we learn, the more we realize how much we still have to learn. There are more than 100 different types of sarcoma, and many discoveries in the last two decades have shown how different each type is.
Even as we strive to improve our understanding and treatment of many types of sarcoma and other cancers, we recognize that every cancer and every patient with cancer is unique. Each person we are fortunate enough to work with needs specific care and attention to move forward.
Thank you for your continued strength and determination. We are committed to learning the most we can in order to do the best we can for every patient.
The KB Jones Lab