Diseases » What is Sarcoma
Author: James Moore | July 27, 2017
Sarcoma is a disease that can start in any part of the body. The cancer begins when healthy cells grow and change out of control and form a mass which is called a tumour. Tumours can be cancerous or benign. Children and adults can develop a sarcoma but it is rare in adults. Sarcomas do represent about 15% of all childhood cancers though.
Soft tissue sarcomas don’t really have any obvious symptoms in the early stages. They can cause symptoms when they get bigger or spread but this does depend on where the cancer develops. Cancer near the stomach may cause abdominal pain or you might feel constipated or full a lot. If you have cancer near your lungs you may have a cough or feel out of breath a lot. Cancer around the skin may cause a soft bump that might not be sore.
If you ever have any worrying lumps go straight to your doctor. Don’t ever leave a lump to go away on its own, especially one that gets grows. The majority of the time you won’t have any cancerous lumps and it will probably be a cyst or a lipoma but it is always important to get these checked out.
Cancer starts when cells start growing or change and go a bit out of control – these then form growths that are called tumours.
We aren’t too sure what causes sarcomas to happen but we do know things that increase the risk. Age is a big factor, while sarcomas can happen at any age they are more common in middle aged or elderly people. Your risk increases as you get older. There are also genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis type 1 and retinoblastoma that are associated with sarcomas.
Once you’ve attended your doctors and they feel there could be a possibility of cancer you will be referred to the hospital to do a series of tests.
Diagnosing soft tissue sarcomas will be done by a hospital specialist based on your symptoms. Usually a physical examination, your symptoms and the results of an ultrasound or MRI scan will decide whether you have a sarcoma or not.
There are three types of treatment for sarcomas. These are Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy and surgery. You doctor will decide what the best treatment for you will be. They take things like where the cancer developed, what type of sarcoma it is, age, health and how far it spread into consideration.
If you have to get surgery then this involves removing the tumour and a small selection of healthy tissue around it. This is mostly done when you get diagnosed at an early stage. There is a good chance you’ll have some issues using the body part that got affected after surgery and you might potentially need further surgery to fix it. In a small number of cases people have had to have the part of the body affected amputated.
Radiotherapy is used before or after surgery to help improve the chances of curing the sarcoma. Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat diseases. Radiotherapy can be used to treat external and internal problems. Internal radiotherapy means putting radioactive material inside the body and external radiotherapy means aiming high-energy x-rays at the affected areas.
Radiotherapy works by destroying cancer cells in the area that needs treated. The problem is normal cells can be damaged by this too which can cause side effects like sore skin, hair loss and tiredness. Sometimes if the cancer is incurable doctors will give u radiotherapy to relieve symptoms instead.
Chemotherapy isn’t used too much but can be used before surgery to reduce the size of a tumour and make it easier to remove. Chemotherapy has side effects too like tiredness, feeling weak, feeling sick and hair loss.
Like any cancer treating sarcoma all depends on the type of sarcoma, stage it is in, how old you are, how likely it is to spread and how far it has already spread
The earlier it is detected the better as it will be much smaller but higher grade tumours have a greater risk of coming back or spreading. You will need regular check-up’s after treatment to make sure nothing comes back.
If you’re looking for more information or professional help why not look at sarcoma