Sarcomas are cancers that develop in connective tissues like bone, cartilage, muscle, and tendons. They can occur anywhere in the body but are more common in the arms, legs, pelvis, and chest.

Sarcoma Treatment in Tucson, AZ

What is Sarcoma?

A malignant tumor that arises in connective tissue (such as bone, cartilage, or muscle) sarcomas are relatively rare cancers that can occur in children and adults. There are many different types of sarcomas, which are generally classified by the type of tissue in which they originate.

For example, osteosarcomas develop in bone tissue, while chondrosarcomas arise in cartilage. Sarcomas can also form in other tissues, including fat, muscle, and blood vessels. Because sarcomas can affect any body tissue, they can occur anywhere on the body.

In most cases, sarcomas are treated with surgery and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy may also be used to treat more aggressive forms of the disease. While sarcomas can be difficult to treat, many people with the condition can go on to lead long and healthy lives.

Types of Sarcoma

Sarcomas are a type of cancer that can develop in any number of the body’s tissues, including bone, muscle, fat, and blood vessels.

There are several different types of sarcoma, including osteosarcoma (bone cancer), chondrosarcoma (cartilage cancer), and liposarcoma (fat cancer). Sarcomas can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).

While sarcomas make up less than 1% of all cancers, they can be difficult to treat because they often do not have early warning signs. If you have any symptoms of sarcoma, it is important to see a doctor right away. With early diagnosis and treatment, sarcomas can often be successfully treated.

What are the symptoms of Sarcoma?

Sarcomas can occur anywhere on the body, so symptoms will depend on the location of the tumor.

Soft tissue sarcomas are difficult to detect since they may develop in any part of the body. The most frequent indication of a benign lump is a painless one. As the tumor grows, it might press against nerves or muscles, causing discomfort or difficulty breathing, or both. There are no tests that can discover these tumors before they manifest symptoms.

If the sarcoma is in your bone, you may experience pain that gets worse with time. You also might have trouble moving the affected limb or a sensation of numbness or tingling.

How is Sarcoma diagnosed?

Most sarcomas are diagnosed using a combination of imaging tests and biopsies.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, can help your doctor determine the size and location of a tumor. A biopsy is the only way to definitively diagnose sarcoma. 

  • Biopsy: A biopsy is a medical procedure where a small sample of tissue is removed from the body for examination. A pathologist will then analyze this tissue sample to look for any abnormalities. There are several different types of biopsy that can be used to diagnose sarcoma, including needle biopsy, incisional biopsy, and excisional biopsy. Your doctor will recommend the best type of biopsy for you based on the location of your tumor.
  • X-ray: An x-ray uses a minuscule amount of radiation in order to produce an image of the interior body structures.
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan: A computed tomography (CT) scan is a type of diagnostic imaging that uses x-rays to create detailed, three-dimensional images of the inside of the body. A computer assembles these pictures into a complete, 3D picture showing any abnormalities or tumors.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI machine produces detailed images of the body, especially those of soft tissue like the tonsils and base of the tongue, by using magnetic fields rather than x-rays.
  • Bone scan: A bone scan is a procedure where we use a radioactive tracer to look at the interior of bones. The amount of radiation exposure from the tracer is very low and not harmful. We inject the tracer into a patient’s vein and it collects in areas of active bone growth or injury which can then be detected by a special camera.

Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET-CT scan: A CT scan is often performed at the same time as a PET scan, which is known as a PET-CT scan. A PET scan produces images of internal organs and tissues using radiation therapy. The patient’s body is injected with a tiny quantity of radioactive sugar material. To create pictures of the inside of the body, a scanner detects this substance and generates images of the body’s interior.

There are four stages of Sarcoma:

Stage I– The cancer is confined to the primary site and is 5cm or smaller.

Stage II– The cancer is 5cm or smaller, It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant sites.

Stage III – The cancer is larger than 5cm but not more than 10cm. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant sites.

Stage IV – The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs.

The stage of the sarcoma will guide your treatment plan. In general, surgery is the first line of treatment for all stages of sarcoma. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be used in some cases.

What are the treatments for Sarcoma?

The standard treatment for sarcoma is surgery to remove the tumor. In some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be used.

  • Surgery is the most common treatment for sarcoma. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue around it. In some cases, it may also be necessary to remove lymph nodes or other nearby tissues.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It can be used before or after surgery to help shrink a tumor or kill any remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy can also be used as a primary treatment for tumors that are difficult to remove surgically.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be used before or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy is also sometimes used as a primary treatment for tumors that are difficult to remove surgically.

Sarcoma can be a difficult diagnosis to make, so it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you have any symptoms that concern you. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best chance for a successful outcome.

What are the side effects of Sarcoma treatment?

The side effects of sarcoma treatment depend on the type of treatment you receive. Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy can all cause side effects.

Side effects of surgery can include pain, swelling, and infection at the site of the surgery. You may also have a risk of developing lymphedema, which is a build-up of fluid in the affected limb.

Radiation therapy can cause side effects such as fatigue, skin irritation, and nausea. Radiation therapy can also damage healthy cells and tissues, which can lead to other side effects such as trouble swallowing or diarrhea.

Chemotherapy can cause a wide range of side effects, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and an increased risk of infection. Some chemotherapy drugs can also damage the heart, lungs, or kidneys.

It is important to tell your doctor about any side effects you experience so that they can be managed effectively.

What is the role of radiation therapy in Sarcoma?

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It can be used before or after surgery to help shrink a tumor or kill any remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy can also be used as a primary treatment for tumors that are difficult to remove surgically. 

Radiation therapy is used in combination with other treatments, it is often given after sarcoma surgery to help kill any remaining cancer cells. This can also be used to relieve pain and other sarcoma symptoms.

What is the prognosis for someone with Sarcoma?

The 5-year survival rate indicates the percentage of people who live at least five years after cancer treatment. The overall 5-year survival rate for patients with sarcoma is 65%.

  • Localized sarcomas account for approximately 60% of all sarcomas. For individuals with localized sarcoma, the five-year survival rate is 81%.
  • Approximately 18% of sarcomas are discovered in a locally advanced phase, with a five-year survival rate of 56%.
  • At the time of diagnosis, 15% of sarcomas are found to have spread. The 5-year survival rate for people with a metastatic tumor is 16%.

It is important to note that the course of sarcoma, including how long it lives in a patient and its symptoms, varies according to many factors: the type of tumor; where on the body it occurs (or metastasizes); and whether or not cancer cells are dividing quickly—called grade.

Risk Factors for Sarcoma

Factors that can increase the risk of sarcoma include:
  • Inherited syndromes: Various syndromes that make one more susceptible to cancer can be inherited from parents. Examples of these include familial retinoblastoma and neurofibromatosis type 1, both of which increase the risk of sarcoma.
  • Chronic swelling (lymphedema): Lymphedema is the formation of swelling due to an accumulation of lymph fluid when the lymphatic system is blocked or damaged. It increases the risk of angiosarcoma, a type of sarcoma.
  • Exposure to chemicals: Some chemicals, like those found in some herbicides and factories, can cause sarcoma which then affects the liver.
  • Exposure to viruses: Human herpesvirus 8, sometimes known as HHV-8, can make people with damaged immune systems more susceptible to Kaposi’s sarcoma.
  • Previous radiation therapy: Radiation therapy used to treat other cancers can increase the risk of developing a new sarcoma later on.

How can you reduce your risk of getting Sarcoma?

There are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing sarcoma:
  • Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals: If you work with or around harmful chemicals, be sure to take precautions to protect yourself, such as wearing gloves and a mask.
  • Manage chronic conditions: If you have a condition that causes chronic swelling, like lymphedema, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for managing it. This can help reduce your risk of developing angiosarcoma.
  • Reduce your risk of infection: Be sure to practice good hygiene and get vaccinated against viruses that can cause sarcoma, like HHV-8.

If you want to reduce your risk of developing sarcoma, talk with a doctor who specializes in the disease. They will be able to advise you based on their knowledge of what contributes most significantly toward causing it—and this information may differ from person to person.

We are here to help

Knowing your risk factors can help you take action against developing the disease and reduce your chances of getting it in the first place. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with sarcoma, it is important to get the best possible treatment. We offer a wide range of sarcoma treatments, including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Our sarcoma team is here to help you every step of the way. 

We are here to assist you as you deal with this challenging situation.