What is Sarcoma Cancer?

What is Sarcoma Cancer? – Soft Tissue Sarcomas

sarcomas are non-hematological malignancies that develop rapidly, aggressively and in a wide variety of locations. Yet despite their highly unpredictable nature, the treatment of sarcomas does have many foundation principles and strategies to fall back on. We have compiled a great deal of information about soft tissue sarcomas within this guide. 

Whether you are looking for basic information about these cancers, or want to learn about specific sarcoma types, we strongly suggest you read through each section carefully and make use of the links provided to obtain further information. This is recommended especially if you are a cancer patient who has been diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma as well as any family or friends accompanying you during your personal fight against this disease.

Sarcoma can occur in anyone of any age. While the best treatment for some types of sarcoma is known, there is no single best treatment for all types of sarcomas. Each person is different and each type of sarcoma responds differently to treatment. Treatment usually involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery with or without other types of medicines or procedures added to the treatment plan.

You need to catch it early to minimize your odds of a recurrence. Get screening tests throughout your lifetime if you are at high risk and don’t take cancer lightly. Quickly but carefully find a doctor who is well-trained to treat cancer patients and get screened. The success of your treatment greatly rests on doing these two things.

Symptoms Of Sarcoma

Sarcomas are rare cancers that can form in various tissues and organs. The good news is that this cancer is not common, but the bad news is it can affect any part of the body. Unfortunately, sarcoma cancer can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms vary widely. However, it should be noted that there is no standard staging system for soft tissue sarcomas and each system may have slightly different, yet specific, criteria. 

The most important thing to understand about sarcomas is that they are typically treated the same way other types of cancer would be treated, but one should not dismiss their own physician’s recommendations or authority.

Malignant bone cancer

Despite decades of research, sarcoma remains among the most deadly forms of cancer. For example, the prognosis for a patient with malignant bone cancer depends on the type of cancer that they have, the stage at which it was found and then treated, their overall health before treatment, and whether or not they’re able to tolerate treatment that works. A positive outlook can be completely different in just one of these factors. 

It’s often hard to tell how long you have left. But remember that there are many treatment options available today that weren’t even around a decade ago. Proper diagnosis is important; hopefully reading this post doesn’t cause anyone undue worry about their own cancers. But if you do have any questions about your sarcoma, make sure you speak with your physician about them.

Some tumors of the soft tissue are benign (noncancerous). These tumors do not spread and are rarely life-threatening. However, benign tumors can crowd nearby organs and cause symptoms or interfere with normal body functions.

Metastatic soft tissue sarcomas are cancerous tumors that may spread to other parts of the body from the primary site. The cells that make up metastatic sarcomas are identical to the original cancer cells in the way they look and grow. They can spread to distant areas of the body in two ways:

  1.  Through the bloodstream or lymph vessels, organs; or
  2.  By direct extension through surrounding tissue.

This means that the cancer has grown into nearby tissues or broken through nearby tissues into new areas.

Benign tumors of the soft tissue (also called benign neoplasms) are noncancerous tumors that can arise in many different types of tissue throughout the body. They may be composed of any type of normal cell that is found in the affected organ or tissue. Although they do not spread beyond their original site, benign tumors can cause problems at the site where they arise or cause symptoms by crowding nearby organs or cutting off blood supply. 

Benign tumors can be described as either encapsulated or unencapsulated, depending on whether they have a capsule, a membrane that is formed around the tumor body cells at the time of its growth.

What are the possible causes of soft tissue sarcomas?

The development of sarcomas is rather complex and is not fully understood by modern medicine. A multi-disciplinary approach involving surgeons, pathologists, radiation therapists, oncologists and geneticists has led to some understanding of the phenomenon. Although sarcoma is a relatively rare disease incidence rates that peak between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, it accounts for nearly 4% of all newly diagnosed cancers in the United States.

While most carcinogens follow the pattern of causing cancer in rats and not humans, there are some that cause tumors in both people and lab animals. Some compounds increase the risk of cancer more than others. Phenoxyacetic acid, chlorophenols, and vinyl chloride are three of the common chemicals that can cause organ cancer in both circumstances.

What are the possible causes of soft tissue sarcomas?​

Chemical-induced sarcomas

Chemical-induced sarcomas are a set of cancers that have been associated with certain exposures, such as industrial chemicals and certain medical procedures. Chemicals used for water purification and coal production have been found to increase risk of cancer . 

A study on workers exposed to chemical mixtures has linked exposure to chlorophenols in wood preservatives and herbicides with an increased risk of soft tissue sarcoma. Excessive exposure to methyl alcohol (methanol) or ethylene glycol may also lead to this type of cancer. Chemicals can affect various organ systems, including the skin.

Genetic alterations that may lead to the development of soft tissue sarcomas

If you have a family history of soft tissue sarcoma and other kinds of cancer, you may wonder if there is something that can be passed down in your family. Some people with a family history of cancer have found out that they carry a gene mutation that leads to an increased risk of developing cancer. This means that someone who inherits this mutation has a higher chance of developing various forms of cancer. This can help doctors identify those at risk and prevent, or catch the disease early so they can treat it more effectively.

The genetic alterations identified in families with cancer clusters are contributing factors to the development of sarcoma. The next section describes a specific example in which DNA analysis pointed to an important gene involved in the development of soft tissue sarcomas.

Development of Kaposi’s sarcoma

A retrovirus plays a role in the development of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), a rare cancer that affects the cells that line blood vessels in the skin and mucous membranes, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins. Kaposi’s sarcoma often occurs in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma, however, has different characteristics and is treated differently than typical soft tissue sarcomas. Physicians suspect that KS may be connected to inflammation of the immune system in some way. In fact, KS is one of several cancers that has been linked to HIV, the virus responsible for causing AIDS.

Where do soft tissue sarcomas develop?

Where do soft tissue sarcomas develop?

Soft tissue sarcomas are rare tumors that can occur almost anywhere in the body. They arise from the cells of soft tissues, which connect, support, or surround other structures and organs. Soft tissues include muscles, tendons, ligaments, fat, and blood vessels.

Soft tissue sarcomas are malignant tumors that develop from the tissues of the body that support other structures. They can form almost anywhere in the body, although about 50 percent arise in the arms or legs and about 40 percent occur in the trunk, so that upper and lower limbs together compose about 90 percent of all cases.

How often do soft tissue sarcomas occur?

The numbers for soft tissue sarcoma have been rising in recent years. This may be because of improved detection methods. In the United States, about 1 out of every 100 people will develop this disease at some point during their lifetime, making it more common than childhood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.

What are the symptoms of soft tissue sarcomas?

Tumor Anatomy Soft tissue sarcomas arise from cells that make up muscles, tendons, fat, blood vessels, fibrous tissues (such as fascia), or other connective or supportive tissue. The different types of sarcomas are defined by the types of cells in which they begin. 

The tumors usually form in the arms or legs, but can occur anywhere in the body. There are more than 30 types of soft tissue sarcomas, Sarcomas are generally divided into four types, depending on their tissue of origin.

How are soft tissue sarcomas diagnosed?

If you notice a soft tissue lump or swelling, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. Your doctor will conduct a thorough exam, including visual inspection and feeling the lump with his hands. If your doctor suspects that a non-cancerous mass could potentially be cancerous, he may recommend that you get an ultrasound of the affected area. During an ultrasound, sound waves are used to create a visual representation of the internal structures in the body. 

The ultrasound can reveal whether the tumor is made up of fatty tissue or muscle tissue and determine if it is growing quickly. If needed, your doctor may recommend additional testing such as a biopsy to assist in the diagnosis of the mass and rule out cancer.

How are soft tissue sarcomas treated?

The treatment for soft tissue sarcomas depends on the stage of the cancer. The stage of the sarcoma is based on the size and grade of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body (metastasized).
Surgery is the most common treatment for soft tissue sarcomas. If possible, the doctor may remove the cancer and a safe margin of the healthy tissue around it. Depending on the size and location of the sarcoma, it may occasionally be necessary to remove all or part of an arm or a leg (amputation). 

How are soft tissue sarcomas treated?

However, the need for amputation rarely arises; no more than 10 percent to 15 percent of individuals with sarcoma undergoes amputation. In most cases, limb-sparing surgery is an option to avoid amputating the arm or leg. In limb-sparing surgery, as much of the tumor is removed as possible, and radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy are given either before the surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells. This usually has a good effect on cancer control, but may cause some adverse effects.

The treatment for soft tissue sarcomas depends on the stage of the cancer. The stage of the sarcoma is based on the size and grade of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body (metastasized).
Surgery is the most common treatment for soft tissue sarcomas. If possible, the doctor may remove the cancer and a safe margin of the healthy tissue around it. Depending on the size and location of the sarcoma, it may occasionally be necessary to remove all or part of an arm or a leg (amputation). 

However, the need for amputation rarely arises; no more than 10 percent to 15 percent of individuals with sarcoma undergoes amputation. In most cases, limb-sparing surgery is an option to avoid amputating the arm or leg. In limb-sparing surgery, as much of the tumor is removed as possible, and radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy are given either before the surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells. This usually has a good effect on cancer control, but may cause some adverse effects.

Radiation therapy can be used in many ways to treat cancer. After surgery, it may be used to kill any cancer cells that were left behind or were too close to a vital organ to be removed by surgery. It can also be given before surgery to give the surgeon better visibility during the operation and shrink tumors that are too big for surgery.

Chemotherapy is a treatment (also called chemo) that uses medicines to kill cancer cells in the blood or bone marrow or in the soft tissue. It may be given after surgery or radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells or to prevent the cancer from spreading. Chemotherapy may also help relieve pain, keep bone pain from getting worse, and improve quality of life.

Clinical trials for Cancer
Clinical trials for Cancer

Efforts to obtain more accurate statistics on survivors of soft tissue sarcoma are taking place on several fronts. One promising method is the enrollment of patients in clinical trials that offer new treatments for soft tissue sarcoma. By contributing data to these trials, patients can help the medical community learn about the effects of treatment options and keep figures on overall survival as up-to-date as possible.

 

Clinical trials are an important part of the development of new methods of treatment. Before a new treatment can be recommended for general use, doctors conduct clinical trials to find out whether the treatment is safe for patients and effective against the disease.
As a cancer sufferer, you need all the facts on soft tissue sarcoma clinical trials that are taking place in the world today in order to make an informed decision. Clinical trials can sometimes be difficult to find because they are not always advertised.

 

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