Sarcoma is a type of cancer that forms in the body's soft tissue, including the muscles, tendons, fat, and blood vessels. Sarcomas can occur anywhere in the body, but they are most commonly found in the arms or legs. Sarcomas are rare cancers, accounting for only about 1% of all cancer cases.
There are several types of sarcoma, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options. The most common type of sarcoma is leiomyosarcoma, which forms in the smooth muscle tissue. Other types of sarcoma include:
-Rhabdomyosarcoma, which forms in the skeletal muscle tissue
-Osteosarcoma, which forms in the bone
-Ewing's Sarcoma, which forms in the bone or soft tissue
-Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma, which forms in the connective tissue
Sarcomas can be difficult to diagnose because they often do not cause any symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms do occur, they can vary depending on the type and location of the tumor. Common symptoms include:
-A lump or mass that is painful or tender to the touch
-Swelling or redness in the affected area
-Loss of function in the affected limb
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome.
The exact cause of sarcoma is unknown, but there are several risk factors that may increase your chances of developing the disease. These include:
Treatment for sarcoma depends on the type and stage of the disease. In most cases, surgery is the first line of treatment. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. Sarcomas that cannot be removed with surgery may be treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Clinical trials are ongoing to find new and better treatments for sarcoma. If you have been diagnosed with sarcoma, talk to your doctor about all of your treatment options.
There is no sure way to prevent sarcoma, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk. If you are exposed to radiation or chemicals that are known to increase the risk of sarcoma, be sure to follow safety guidelines and take precautions to protect yourself. You should also see your doctor regularly for checkups so that any problems can be found and treated early.
Some tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, are often done to look for the cause of symptoms and to find a tumor (such as a sarcoma). Other tests may be done after a sarcoma is diagnosed to look for cancer spread.
People who have a strong family history of sarcomas, or who have had other cancers when they were young, might wish to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of genetic testing with their doctor.
The test results should always be explained by a genetic counselor or a specially trained doctor who can interpret the results and advise high-risk patients about the need for early cancer detection tests.
No screening tests and exams are recommended for people who have no family history of sarcoma or other sarcoma risk factors. For these people, the best approach to early detection is to tell their healthcare professional about any unexplained lumps or growths, or other symptoms that may be caused by a soft tissue sarcoma.
In the USA, there are several organizations focused on the research of Sarcoma, giving treatment to patients as well as support and education among them:
The Sarcoma Alliance strives to improve the lives of people affected by sarcoma through accurate diagnosis and improved access to care, guidance, education, and support. It offers an extensive website and a peer-to-peer program. Sarcoma Alliance refers patients to sarcoma centers throughout the United States and through their assistance fund provides financial support to those seeking second opinions from sarcoma specialists.
The mission of the Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA), based in Maryland, is to advocate for sarcoma patients by funding research and increasing awareness about the disease. The organization raises money to privately fund grants for sarcoma researchers and conducts education and advocacy efforts on behalf of sarcoma patients. Its website has significant information on patient resources and research funding, along with a sarcoma patient registry.
Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration is a non-profit organization, based in Michigan, dedicated to the development and support of research for the prevention, treatment, and cure of sarcomas. Clinical trials are available on their website.