Sarcoma

1 What is Sarcoma?

Sarcoma, a rare kind of cancer, which grows in the connective tissue cells that support different kind of other tissues in the body. These tumors are most common in bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, nerves, adipose tissue and blood vessels. 

Although there are more than 50 types of sarcoma, they can be grouped in to two main kinds: 

  • sarcoma of soft tissue,
  • sarcoma of bony tissue (osteosarcoma).

The sarcomas can be treated by surgical procedures in which the surgeon removes the tumor.

2 Symptoms

Painless lump is the main symptom of sarcoma. More than half or sarcomas begin arm or leg.  Some additional signs and symptoms include:

  • bloody stools and vomit due to rupture of blood vessels in the gastro-intestinal tract.
  • abdominal pain.

Osteosarcoma (sarcoma of boy tissue) causes pain in the bone leading to limited motions.

3 Causes

Most often the cause of sarcoma is not clear generally it occurs due to mutational errors in the DNA of the cells. such errors make the cells grow and divide leads to unlimited growth of the cell and they accumulate with each other to form a tumor. 

Such tumor can grow to invade nearby structures and   other parts of the body. Also if the tumor is big enough it may compress nearby vessels and cause ischemic (stopping of blood flow) lesions.

4 Making a Diagnosis

The diagnosis of sarcoma starts with a thorough physical checkup but in most cases it is not enough to prove the condition. 

Some additional tests are always used to diagnose which include the following:

The doctor may also remove a tissue sample of the affected area for testing in a laboratory.  

Sarcomas are often classified as localized (limited to a particular area) or metastatic. These tumors are staged using either the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society Staging System or the American Joint Commission on Cancer guidelines.

5 Treatment

The treatment options for sarcoma depend on size, type, location and severity of the tumor. The following treatment procedures are often performed:

  • Chemotherapy- certain drugs which shrink and kill cancerous cells are often administered before the surgery. If the cancer has not spread to the other parts of the body the doctor may recommend six months of chemotherapy before surgery.  Once the course of drugs is finished surgical removal of the remaining tumors is performed. 
  • Surgery- generally involves removing the tumor cells along with some healthy tissue surrounding it to prevent any chances of spreading. If the tumor has spread very intensively to the arms and legs, there may be a need of amputation (complete removal of the affected area). 
  • Radiation therapy- this involves usage of high power beams of energy such as x-ray or protons to kill the cancer cells. Most often radiation is used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. 
  • Targeted drug treatment- these drugs target specific abnormal signals in the sarcoma cells that allow them to grow and block them. Some of the drugs include imatinib, sunitinib, regorafenib, pazopanib. 

6 Prevention

Since genetics play a major role in the development of sarcoma, prevention becomes difficult. This can include:

  • maintaining a healthy lifestyle,
  • avoid smoking and alcohol,
  • regular exercises,
  • regular checkup of those people included in the risk groups can detect early cancer and completely cure it .

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

A few homeopathic remedies exist for sarcoma.

After diagnosis of cancer the patient is kept under strict medical supervision.

Home remedies are generally not advised but the anti-tumor properties of the following substance will not worsen situation , if not improve:

  • broccoli,
  • grapes,
  • ginseng,
  • green tea,
  • aloe Vera,
  • lycopene,
  • soybeansk,
  • wheat grass.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

A diagnosis of sarcoma can be devastating but it is important to cope with the situation with the distress and uncertainty of cancer

The following steps should be taken:

  • learning about sarcoma including the treatment options and prognosis,
  • keeping relationships strong for emotional support,
  • finding someone to talk to especially a counselor, a medical social worker or a member of cancer support group will be extremely helpful. 

9 Risks and Complications

The following risk factors may increase the development of sarcoma:

  • inherited syndrome,
  • chemical exposure such as:
    • herbicides,
    • arsenic,
    • dioxin,
    • radiation exposure. 

The procedures directed to cure sarcoma may not full fill its aim and the cancerous cells may continue to grow and spread. In such cases amputation is suggested (complete removal). 

If tumor spreads to the lungs, then it may lead to complete respiratory failure if the symptoms are not treated in time due to the chemotherapy performed on the patient he or she can develop unpleasant side effects like:

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