What is Sarcoma Cancer and what are the symptoms and prognosis?

November 12, 2012

What is Sarcoma Cancer and what are the symptoms and prognosis?

Sarcoma cancer is a way of describing any tumor which is cancerous. Sarcoma is a general term used to describe possible tumors. Sarcomas tend to develop in soft tissue and the mesoderm and ectoderm are two layers commonly affected. Whereas carcinomas tend to affect another cell germ layer known as the endoderm.

Sarcoma cancer only account for about 1% of all cancers in adults however in children that figure rises to about 10%. A sarcoma can develop in almost any type of cell in the human body, including bone cells or other tissues, and these would be known as soft tissue sarcomas.

Some types of sarcoma cancer are more prevalent than others and some common ones include clear cell sarcoma,gastro intestinal stromal tumors, also known as GIST, nerve sheath tumor, liposarcoma and synovial sarcoma. And a study showed that the legs are the most common place on the body to get these types of cancer with 46% of people being affected in that area. The trunk had 18% and then the arms and abdomen and back all affected 13% of sufferers equally. The study investigated 4,550 sarcoma cancer sufferers.

Because the sarcoma cancer can develop anywhere it is wise to see a doctor if any painless lump appears anywhere on your body and does not disappear quickly. We should remember though that we all get a lump at some time and usually it is not cancer. Non cancerous fatty lumps are really quite common. However, as with all cancers, it is better to deal with the condition at its earlier stages.

The reasons for lumps under the skin are numerous and rarely cancerous. Some common reasons include hair follicles, oddly growing pimples. Insect bites or a minor infection. Most of these will give some discomfort or pain, this can occur in about 30% of sarcoma cancers too, however it is very uncommon for sarcomas to cause a lot of pain.

If the sarcoma can be felt as a lump then symptoms may appear as a side effect of the condition. For example a lump in the leg may restrict blood flow throughout the veins and arteries. This could show itself as swelling or a larger area of pain, yet the cancer is not painful. Sarcomas tend to force themselves against healthy parts of the body as they grow causing misleading symptoms.

If a lump is noticed then speedy treatment is a must. Many sarcoma cancers respond well to treatment if they are caught early enough. Usually sarcomas grow into surrounding tissue and the degree of abnormality of the cell structure is what affects the prognosis, not the size of the tumor. The doctor will normally carry out a biopsy and perhaps take some X-rays as part of the initial investigation. This is a requirement before any course of treatment can be decided upon and the earlier any treatment begins then the better the prognosis.


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