One of the rarest types of cancer that develops in the body’s soft tissues is Sarcoma. This cancer affects muscles, tendons, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and deep skin tissues. Though sarcoma accounts for a small percentage of all cancers, it is important to understand its various types, know how to recognize the symptoms, and explore the different kinds of treatment options.
What are the Types of Sarcoma:
There are two main types of cancer, namely Soft Tissue Sarcoma and Bone Sarcoma.
Soft tissue sarcoma begins in the soft tissues of the body, which includes muscles, tendons, and connective tissues. This type of sarcoma can occur anywhere in the body, including the arms, legs, abdomen, and trunk.
Bone sarcoma on the other hand, is also known as osteosarcoma, this cancer primarily affects the bones. It usually develops in children and young adults, especially during their rapid growth years. Common locations include the arms, legs, and pelvis. Another type of bone sarcoma is Ewing sarcoma, which commonly occurs in children and young adults.
Symptoms to look out for:
The symptoms of sarcoma depend highly on the location and size of the tumor. There are some general signs that individuals should be aware of:
A noticeable lump can develop in the affected area. It may or may not be painful, but it should be evaluated immediately when identified.
Unstoppable pain in the area, especially if it worsens over time or interferes with normal activities, should be checked out.
Difficulty moving a particular body part, joint, or limb may indicate the presence of a sarcoma tumor.
Extreme tiredness, this is applicable for later stages of sarcoma, a person may experience fatigue and unintentional weight loss.
Treatment Options for Sarcoma:
Surgery is the primary treatment for sarcoma and aims to remove the tumor and any surrounding affected tissues. In some instances, limb-sparing surgeries can preserve function while removing the tumor, while amputation may be necessary in more advanced cases.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is often used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy may also be recommended when surgery is not feasible or to alleviate symptoms in advanced cases.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. It may be administered before surgery to shrink tumors or after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence. Chemotherapy is also used for sarcomas that have spread to other parts of the body or in cases where surgery and radiation are not effective.
Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs that specifically target cancer cells based on their genetic or molecular characteristics. These therapies can help disrupt the growth and spread of cancer cells. Targeted therapies are typically used in cases where specific genetic mutations or alterations are present.
In conclusion, it is essential to understand the disease, its types, symptoms, and available treatment options to detect cancer early and hope for better results. However, with advancements in medical research and multidisciplinary treatment approaches, there is hope for improved prognosis and quality of life for individuals affected by sarcoma.
Dr. Shantanu Pendse, Associate Consultant (Medical Oncology), HCG NCHRI Cancer Centre, Nagpur