Sarcoma FAQs

drkmh Sarcoma FAQs


In the early stages, sarcomas may not cause noticeable symptoms, which is one of the reasons why early detection can be challenging.


Q: What is a Sarcoma?


Dr: A sarcoma is a type of cancer that arises from the connective tissues in the body, such as bones, muscles, cartilage, nerves, and blood vessels. Sarcomas are relatively rare compared to other types of cancers, accounting for about 1% of all adult cancers and 15% of childhood cancers.


Q: How is Sarcoma different from Carcinoma?


Dr: While Sarcomas develop in the connective tissues of the body, carcinoma, on the other hand, arises from epithelial cells, which are the cells that line the surfaces and organs of the body. Epithelial cells are found in various organs, including the skin, lungs, breasts, prostate, and digestive tract. Carcinomas are the most common type of cancer and account for the majority of cancer cases.


Q: What are the main types of Sarcomas?


Dr: There are two main types of sarcomas. First is Soft Tissue Sarcomas which develops in the soft tissues of the body, which include muscles, fat, blood vessels, tendons, and ligaments. Secondly, there are Bone Sarcomas that originate in the bones of the body and can affect various bones, such as the arms, legs, pelvis, or spine.


Q: Do Sarcomas take a long time to grow?


Dr: Yes, sarcomas can take a long time to grow in some cases. As mentioned earlier, the growth rate of sarcomas can vary significantly depending on multiple factors, and some sarcomas may exhibit slow growth over an extended period. In some instances, sarcomas may remain small and localized for months or even years before being diagnosed or causing noticeable symptoms. This slow growth can make early detection challenging, leading to a delayed diagnosis.


Q: What are some common symptoms of sarcomas?


Dr: In the initial stages, sarcomas may not cause noticeable symptoms, which is one of the reasons why early detection can be challenging. However, as the tumour grows, it may lead to specific signs and symptoms. Common symptoms of sarcomas include:

  • Lump or Mass: A common early sign of sarcoma is the development of a painless lump or mass under the skin or within the muscles. The lump may feel firm or soft, and it can be slow growing.
  • Pain or Tenderness: As the tumour enlarges, it can put pressure on surrounding tissues and structures, leading to pain or tenderness in the affected area.
  • Swelling: Sarcomas in the limbs may cause swelling, especially if they are located near joints or muscle groups.
  • Limited Range of Motion: If a sarcoma is close to a joint or affects nearby muscles, it may restrict movement in that area.
  • Nerve Compression Symptoms: Sarcomas near nerves can cause symptoms such as tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected area.
  • Unexplained Fractures: Bone sarcomas, like osteosarcoma or Ewing sarcoma, can weaken the bone and increase the risk of unexplained fractures.
  • Weight Loss and Fatigue: In advanced stages of sarcoma, as with many cancers, systemic symptoms like weight loss, fatigue, and general weakness may occur.


Q: Are there any routine screening tests for Sarcomas?


Dr: Unfortunately, there are not. The primary reason for the lack of sarcoma screening is that sarcomas are relatively rare, accounting for only a small percentage of all cancers. Additionally, several types of sarcomas can arise from various connective tissues, making a single screening test impractical. Early detection of sarcomas relies on recognizing symptoms and promptly seeking medical attention for evaluation and diagnosis.


Q: Can Sarcomas be prevented?


Dr: Since there is no known cause for Sarcoma, there is no way of preventing it either. Being aware of what puts you at risk of developing Sarcoma may alert you to symptoms. The risk of developing sarcoma is increased in people with certain risk factors, including:

  • Age – Sarcoma can occur at any age, but it is more common in adults over the age of 50.
  • Genetics – People with certain inherited conditions, such as neurofibromatosis type 1, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and retinoblastoma
  • Radiation / Chemical exposure – People who have been exposed to high doses of radiation or certain chemicals, such as vinyl chloride, dioxin, and herbicides.
  • Family history – People who have a family history of sarcoma have an increased risk of developing the disease.


Q: How is Sarcoma treated?


Dr: Sarcoma treatment options include surgery to remove the tumour, radiation therapy to target cancer cells, chemotherapy to stop cell growth, targeted therapy for specific genetic mutations, and immunotherapy to boost the immune system. Clinical trials offer potential access to innovative treatments. Treatment decisions depend on the type, stage, and location of the sarcoma, as well as the patient’s overall health. A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals collaborates to tailor the best approach for everyone. It is vital to consult with a cancer specialist to discuss suitable options.


Q: What is the success rate of Sarcoma treatment?


Dr: The success rate of sarcoma treatment can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type and stage of sarcoma, the location of the tumour, the age and overall health of the patient, and the treatment approaches used. Generally, the prognosis for localized sarcomas (those that have not spread beyond their original site) tends to be better than for metastatic sarcomas (those that have spread to other parts of the body). For localized sarcomas, the five-year survival rate can range from about 50% to 90% or more. Metastatic sarcomas have a lower five-year survival rate, typically ranging from about 15% to 30%.


Q: What are the chances of Sarcoma returning even after successful treatment?


Dr: The risk of sarcoma returning after successful treatment varies based on factors like tumour grade, stage, surgical margins, histologic subtype, size, metastasis, and treatment response. Even with successful treatment, sarcoma can recur. Regular follow-up visits, imaging tests, and monitoring are essential to detect any recurrence early. The risk is higher for higher-grade and more advanced-stage sarcomas, larger tumours, and those with incomplete surgical removal or metastasis at the time of diagnosis. Genetic factors and the effectiveness of initial treatment can also influence the likelihood of recurrence. Patients should maintain a healthy lifestyle and adhere to the healthcare team’s recommendations for ongoing care to minimize the risk of recurrence.


CONSULTANT - SURGICAL ONCOLOGIST at Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals
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