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Sarcoma – Causes and Symptoms

Sarcoma is the common term for a broad group of cancers which begin in the bones and the soft tissues. There are over 70 types of Sarcoma, and they can arise from muscle, blood vessels, tendons, fat, nerves and the lining of the joints.

What is Sarcoma?

Sarcoma is the umbrella term for a broad group of cancers that can originate at various locations in your body. Soft tissue sarcomas develop in the soft tissues like nerves, fat, muscle, blood vessels, deep skin tissues or fibrous tissues. While they can be found in any part of our body, most of them start from the arms or legs. Soft tissue sarcomas can also be found in the internal organs, head and neck area, trunk and belly (the area in back of the abdominal) cavity (called retroperitoneum). Sarcomas most often initiate in the bones, and these are called osteosarcomas, while some types of sarcomas, such as Rhabdomyosarcomas and the Ewing Family of Tumors, are often seen in children. Sarcomas are malignant tumours.

What are the causes and symptoms of Sarcoma?

There is no exact cause behind Sarcoma. GSene mutations can cause the proliferation of abnormal cells to form a tumor. The symptoms of Sarcoma are,

  • Unintentional, sudden weight loss
  • Pain in the bones
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • A lump on the skin that can either be painful or painless
  • A broken bone that happens with a minor injury

When should you see a doctor?

You should see a doctor if :

  • You have developed a painless  lump that does not go away even after a few days
  • Your bones start aching all of a sudden without any apparent reason
  • You develop persistent abdominal pain

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What are the risk factors and complications associated with Sarcoma?

Some inherited syndromes that you get from parents might increase your risk of having Sarcoma. Such diseases include Retinoblastoma and Neurofibromatosis Type 1. If you have cancer and have been exposed to radiation therapy, you may have a higher chance of developing Sarcoma.

A blocked lymphatic system may lead to the development of Lymphedema, which stores lymph fluid in your body and causes chronic swelling. This can increase your chance of developing Sarcoma. Exposure to certain industrial chemicals like herbicides and exposure to certain viruses like herpesvirus 8 may also increase your risk of developing  a type of Sarcoma called Kaposi’s Sarcoma.

How do we prevent Sarcoma?

The best way to prevent Sarcoma is by preventing yourself from getting exposed to the above-mentioned factors. However, some people still develop Sarcoma even without exposure to these risk factors.

How is Sarcoma treated?

  1. The first treatment option for Sarcoma is surgery. Doctors may remove the affected areas of the body where the Sarcoma is:
  2. Radiation therapy uses energy beams that can kill the sarcoma cells. Radiation therapy involves use of high-powered energy beams like X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells.
  3. Chemotherapy: Certain types of Sarcomas, compared to others, are more likely to respond to chemotherapy.
  4. Targeted therapy: This is a drug treatment, which makes use of drugs that attack specific weaknesses in cancer cells.
  5. Immunotherapy. This is also a drug treatment which makes use of your immune system to fight cancer.

Conclusion

Many people with a soft tissue sarcoma are cured by surgery if the tumor is low-grade and may not spread to other parts of the body.

More aggressive sarcomas are tougher to treat successfully. Survival rate for osteosarcoma is between 60 percent and 75 percent if the cancer has not spread outside the region it started.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1: Can targeted therapy work to cure Sarcoma?

Ans: Targeted therapy targets the sarcoma cells and attacks their weak areas. Your doctor may ask for some samples of your sarcoma cells at first to see if they respond to the targeted therapy or not.

2: How do doctors diagnose Sarcoma?

Ans: Doctors conduct physical exams, imaging tests, and biopsies to diagnose Sarcoma.

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