July 03, 2008 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
This month, 30 medical centers, 21 advocacy groups, and 21 patient and family groups will hold events in 12 countries as a part of the Team Sarcoma Initiative. The international effort will be the largest ever to raise awareness of sarcoma, a cancer that affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Sarcoma is a cancer of the connective tissues, such as nerves, muscles and bones. It can arise anywhere in the body and is frequently hidden deep in the limbs. Sarcomas account for 15-20% of childhood cancer diagnoses and about 1% of adult cancer diagnoses, and they are often misdiagnosed. Many sarcomas resist current treatments.

Dr. Lor Randall, Director of Huntsman Cancer Institute's Sarcoma Service in Salt Lake City, Utah, will be hiking with a local Team Sarcoma on July 19. He explains the need for the Initiative: "Because of continued decreased funding of the NCI budget, sarcoma research has been significantly curtailed. Doctors, patients and researchers expert in sarcoma know that the only way to improve research, and ultimately care, is by taking a pro-active stance." More than 5,000 people are expected to take that pro-active stance with Team Sarcoma from July 12-20.

The Team Sarcoma Initiative is an internationally coordinated set of events to raise awareness of sarcoma and raise funds to support sarcoma research, clinical trials, and patient and family services. The 2008 Initiative consists of a "core" Team Sarcoma and local Team Sarcoma events that will be held worldwide during the same week. The core team will be biking and walking along the Danube River from Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria. It is a microcosm of the overall Team Sarcoma Initiative, as it consists of people from 11 countries representing 11 different sub-types of sarcoma. This diverse group is an excellent example of the Initiative's mantra, "Sarcoma Knows No Borders".

The Initiative has grown from a single team of seven individuals in 2003 to more than 70 teams this year. "The impressive growth of this event over a short period of time suggests that this event was an important unmet need and it is likely to continue growing," remarks Dr. Richard Gorlick, Director of the Sarcoma Research Laboratory at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. He will walk with the Team Sarcoma hosted by the Children's Hospital at Montefiore.

Sixteen international events are a vital part of the Team Sarcoma Initiative. The "Race for Sarcoma" in Mexico City is expected to be the largest single sarcoma awareness event in the world. Laura Vidales, the founder and president of the We Will Never Give Up Foundation, is the coordinator of the Mexico City event. Laura says, "We are convinced of the importance of the effort to create worldwide awareness regarding sarcoma and the need for continuous investigation into the disease. We cannot make cancer disappear, but we can certainly help find the most efficient treatments for the most effective results."

Sarcoma patients, their families and friends have stepped up to organize 21 local Team Sarcomas. Lori Brasic will hold a 24-hour "Soccer 'Round the Clock" event on July 12 in Jackson, Michigan. Lori's son, Logan, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 21. Since then, she has met four families in her area who have children dealing with osteosarcoma.

"The 2008 Team Sarcoma is important to me because I see firsthand the effects that sarcomas have on people. I have seen children sleeping the deep chemo ravaged sleep, dreaming dreams much different than any child should. I have gazed into the faces of precious children whose eyes reflect humble wisdom of their knowing the fragility of their own mortality."

The hope of the Team Sarcoma Initiative is that increased awareness and research funding will improve the diagnosis, treatment, and support offered to everyone who is touched by sarcoma, the "forgotten cancer." Dr. Charles Keller, a research scientist at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, Texas, will be biking with a local Team Sarcoma on July 17. He describes the power of the Initiative: "Pharmaceutical companies, not even Congress, can do nearly as much for stimulating new cures as can the grass roots efforts of the public."

To learn more about the Team Sarcoma Initiative, view a full listing of events, and get involved, visit:

About the Team Sarcoma Initiative: The global Team Sarcoma Initiative is coordinated by the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people dealing with sarcoma. The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative publishes peer-reviewed articles in the Electronic Sarcoma Update Newsletter; provides comprehensive, sarcoma-specific clinical trial information at; and has awarded and co-funded $637,000 in peer-reviewed research grants to date.