Stopping sarcoma in its tracks

Written by Community Health Network on 7/15/2014 7:00:00 AM

Learn about sarcoma

According to the American Cancer Society, this year approximately 12,000 new soft tissue sarcoma cases will be diagnosed in the United States.

These cancers are considered rare, but found most often in adults. More than half are found in the arms and legs. Others soft tissue sarcomas are discovered in the abdomen, head and/or neck.

The most common symptom an adult will notice is a lump that continues to grow over the course of a few weeks or months. Most often these lumps do not hurt. 

When the soft tissue tumor is in the belly, it can cause a blockage or bleeding in the stomach or intestines. In some cases theses tumors may grow large enough to be felt. Besides feeling a lump, other symptoms may include abdominal pain, blood in your stool or vomit that may look black and sticky.

Physicians use various types of imaging identify the tumor site along with a biopsy of tissue to confirm if it is a cancerous growth or not. The most common treatment for soft tissue sarcomas is surgery, especially for low-grade tumors that are less than two inches across.

In some case, radiation therapy is also utilized after surgery to attack the microscopic cancer cells on the margin (or edge) of where the tumor was removed. In some patients with larger tumors, a combination therapy of surgery and radiation lowers the chances of the tumor coming back.

When the sarcoma tumor comes back after treatment, medication therapies may be helpful to stop tumor growth and even shrink the tumor. If the tumor is in another part of the body than in the arms or legs, chemotherapy may be added to shrink the tumor enough so that it can be removed entirely by surgery.

Sarcomas tend to be fast growing and tend to spread to the lymph nodes and other distant sites in the body. If you notice a growth, see your physician sooner than later.

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To schedule an appointment with an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician, or to get more information about Community's cancer care services, please call 800.777.7775.

Posted in: Sarcoma

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