Sarcoma is known as the unforgiving cancer and makes up around one percent of cancers. It is mainly a childhood cancer, but is also found in adults usually over the age of 50. Sarcomas are rare, sometimes very aggressive and can be hard to treat.
These malignant tumors normally start in the bones or soft (connective) tissues. There are more than 60 subtypes of sarcomas that can be found in bone, fat, blood vessels, nerves, muscles, synovial tissues and cartilage.
All types share similar characteristics and symptoms. Symptoms can include a lump, mass, swelling, skin lesions or limited mobility and about 50 percent of sarcomas are found in the extremities. Others can occur in the abdomen, back, chest, neck, head or anywhere in the body and can cause abdominal pain, vomiting or bleeding.
Many times these tumors develop in deep layers of soft tissue, can be undetected and become very large or even spread before they are discovered.
It is highly suggested that procedures, diagnosis and treatment of these tumors be sought at a Sarcoma Center by a Sarcoma Specialist. Needle or surgical biopsies should be performed by an experienced sarcoma surgical oncologist who is knowledgeable in treating these tumors.
In some cases these tumors are often misdiagnosed. For instance, liposarcomas have been mistaken for lipomas, which are fatty non-cancerous tumors that form right under the skin, are slow growing and do not cause pain. An ultrasound, CT scan or MRI can help determine what type of tumor is present.
There are four stages of sarcomas, with the fourth stage meaning it has spread to distant sites. Surgical resection, radiation and chemotherapy are used to treat sarcomas depending on the stage and location. Sometimes treatment can pose a challenge because of the aggressiveness, location and stage of the cancer.
Due to the fact there are so many subtypes of this cancer and its rarity, research has not progressed in finding the cause or a cure for this agressive beast as much as in some other forms of cancer.
To learn more about sarcoma cancer and the race for a cure please check out the links below.