Sarcomas are rare cancers that develop in the bones and soft tissues, including fat, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, deep skin tissues, and fibrous tissues. Sarcoma develops from transformed cells of the area of connective tissue. Sarcoma can develop on any part of your body.
Types of Sarcoma Cancer
Sarcomas are categorized as soft tissue or bone sarcomas, depending on where they develop in the body.
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas:Soft tissue sarcomas originate in the body’s soft tissue and are most commonly found in the arms, legs, chest, or abdomen. Soft tissue tumors can occur in children and adults.
- Bone Sarcomas: Bone sarcomas (osteosarcoma most common) are primary bone tumors, which means that they develop in the bones. They are commonly diagnosed in children.
- Risk factor
Certain factors that increase the risk of sarcoma include:
- Radiation therapy:Past Radiation therapy used in the treatment of cancer
- Chemical Exposure:Exposure to various chemicals such as dioxins, and vinyl chloride
- Viral infection: Viral infection caused by Human Herpesvirus 8
- Genetic syndromes: Various inherited syndromes such as familial retinoblastoma may be passed on to the children and increase the risk of sarcoma
- Lymphedema of arms and legs
Signs & Symptoms
Some sarcomas may not cause any symptoms until they grow and press on neighboring nerves, organs, or muscles. Their growth may cause pain, a feeling of fullness, or swelling.
The most common symptoms of bone sarcomas include the following:
- Presence of swelling which is usually painless
- Pain if the tumor affects nerves, muscles, or surrounding tissues
- The patient may limp
- Bone swelling
- Pain in the bones tends to worsen at night.
Since sarcoma is complex and can develop in so many places in the body, it can be difficult to diagnose. However, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis of the type and extent of sarcoma.
The diagnosis includes:
- Physical examination: The doctor will perform a comprehensive evaluation for any swelling and ask the patient about the signs and symptoms.
- Imaging techniques: Imaging techniques such as Ultrasound, X-ray, PET scan, CT scan, bone scan, and MRI are usually recommended for sarcoma evaluation.
- Biopsy: several types of biopsy techniques are used to diagnose sarcoma according to the location of the tumor.
- 1. Fine-needle aspiration
- 2. Core needle
- 3. Incisional
- 4. excisional
Sarcoma is majorly treated by surgery by removing cancer. However, other treatments are used after or before the surgery. Not all surgery types work on all sarcoma as each one is different based on their situation. Some of the most common treatments for sarcoma:
- Surgery:This is the most common treatment for sarcoma. It aims to remove the tumor and some of the normal surrounding tissue.
- Chemotherapy:Chemotherapy can help for some types of sarcomas to downstage the tumour for limb salvage surgery.
- Radiation Therapy:Radiation therapy makes use of ionizing radiation to eradicate cancer cells. It is often used as an adjuvant treatment in support of surgery to further reduce local recurrences of sarcoma.
Follow-up visits for sarcoma are usually scheduled: Every 3 to 6 months for the first 2 to 3 years. Every 6 months for the next 2 years. Once a year after 5 years.