Awareness: July Is Sarcoma Awareness Month
What is Sarcoma?
A sarcoma is a type of cancer that develops from certain tissues, like bone or muscle. The main types of sarcoma are: osteosarcoma, which develops from bone, and soft tissue sarcomas. Soft tissue sarcomas can develop from soft tissues like fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels, or deep skin tissues.
What are the symptoms of Sarcoma?
When sarcomas start on the arms or legs, most people simply notice a lump that has grown over a period of time (weeks to months). It can be painful, but generally, it doesn't hurt. More than half of sarcomas begin in an arm or leg.
When sarcomas grow in the retroperitoneum (the back wall inside the abdomen), the symptoms they cause are more often caused by other problems. Sometimes the tumors cause pain. They may also cause blockage or bleeding of the stomach or bowels. They may grow large enough for the tumor to be felt in the abdomen. About 20% of sarcomas begin in the abdomen (stomach) area.
Sarcomas can also begin on the outside of the chest or abdomen (about 10%) or in the head or neck area (around 10%).
If you have any of the following problems, see a doctor right away:
- A new lump or a lump that is growing anywhere on your body
- Abdominal pain that is getting worse
- Blood in your stool or vomit
- Black, tarry stools (when bleeding happens in the stomach or bowels, the blood isn't always red, and it may make the stool look very black and tarry)
Since symptoms of soft tissue sarcomas often do not appear until the disease is advanced, only about 50% of soft tissue sarcomas are found in the early stages, before they have spread.
What is the treatment for Sarcoma?
After a sarcoma is found and staged, the cancer care team will recommend one or several treatment options. This is an important decision, so take time and think about all of the choices. In choosing a treatment plan, factors to consider include the type, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as your overall physical health.
It is often a good idea to seek a second opinion. A second opinion can provide more information and help you feel more confident about the treatment plan that is chosen. Some insurance companies require a second opinion before they will agree to pay for treatments.
For more information about Sarcoma and other cancers, please visit the American Cancer Society web site (Source).