SARCOMA CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Sarcoma: A Rare Type of Cancer
My first introduction to Sarcoma Cancer was while I was still a medical student. That was over 20 years ago, before I even knew my specialty would be in oncology. I had my first oncology encounter through a family/friend and it was a Sarcoma Cancer diagnosis. She was diagnosed with “Leiomyo-sarcoma of the uterus.” It was a tough time for all of us, but I am happy to report that she is still with us today and doing well! A testament to:
- Knowing your body and reporting any sudden changes to your doctor for further evaluation
- Advancement in medicine and medical procedure
- Family/friends, prayers, love and support
What is Sarcoma?
The American Cancer Society statistics showed that that approximately 10,000 cases of soft tissue sarcoma are diagnosed in the United States each year (~2% of all cancers). Sarcomas can start anywhere in the body such as;
- Blood vessels
- Nerves and tissue
These are usually the soft tissues that surround, connect, or support the body’s structure and organs. Some soft-tissue sarcomas are benign (non-cancerous), and others are malignant (cancerous). There are many types of sarcoma, over 30 in fact. Therefore each type of Sarcoma is very rare. To make it easier to identify and treat, sarcomas are typically grouped with other sarcomas of similar types of cancer cells and symptoms. As would be expected, for identification purposes, usually they are named for the type of tissue where the sarcoma initially begin to grow. Sarcomas within a group are often treated the same way.
What Are The Symptoms of Sarcoma?
Sometimes, there are no obvious symptoms in the early stages. As the size of the sarcoma gets bigger or spread, you may experience different symptoms. The symptoms experienced will depend on where the Sarcoma is located. Meaning, the symptoms for sarcoma of the uterus, vs the leg, vs Sarcoma of the bone will be different. Some common symptoms may include:
- Bone pain
- Abdominal pain
- A lump anywhere on the body, felt/seen through the skin that will not go away
- Rapid growth of a lump
- A lump that may, or may not be painful
- Weight loss, etc.,
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Sarcoma?
There is only one way to know for sure if you have cancer. First thing you should do, is make an appointment with your Primary Care Manager/Physician (PCM/PCP) and let them know about any changes in your body. The first chapter in this book (HERE) will help in preparing for the questions they will ask. Your PC/PCP will not be able to tell you immediately if it is cancer. Be patient. There are several tests that need to be done first. You will likely have a CT/CAT scan, MRI, biopsy of the area, etc., This all could take a couple weeks, or longer. If you are diagnosed with cancer, then more information will be provided on “next steps” by your PCM/PCP. The book (HERE) will also help you prepare for the many upcoming cancer appointments
What Causes Sarcoma?
Sometimes, we do not know what causes cancer. Cancer can just occur sporadically. Other things to consider that may increase a person’s risk of Sarcoma may include;
- Inherited syndromes – Li-Fraumeni, Werner Syndrome, Hereditary retinoblastoma, etc.,
- Radiation therapy – there is a very small risk for those treated with radiation therapy in the past, especially if treated with a high dose at a very young age
- Chemical exposure – to certain chemicals such dioxins and herbicide, vinyl chloride, etc.m
What Are Treatment Options for Sarcoma?
The mainstay of treatment for Sarcoma includes the common 3 standard treatments:
- Surgery (Orthopedic Oncologist)
- Chemotherapy or Immunotherapy
- Radiation therapy
It is very important to discuss the stage of the cancer and treatment options available. Be sure to also discuss the expected side effects from treatment. Other options that include new treatment modalities may also be available via clinical trials. Remember, never go to these appointments alone.
If the basics of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other terminology used in cancer discussion is unfamiliar to you, consider the Cancer 101 course to learn more. You may register for the FREE course HERE and test your cancer knowledge HERE
Until next time remember,
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
Don’t forget to visit our website … HERE
Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!