Sarcoma and Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Sarcoma and Soft Tissue Sarcoma

 

Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the bone. Soft Tissue Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the soft tissues, for example, muscle, fat, blood vessel, or nerve. In many cases soft tissue sarcoma can be treated with surgical excision. If Sarcoma and Soft Tissue Sarcoma are left untreated they can spread to other parts of the body.

Sarcoma

 

Both Sarcoma and Soft Tissue Sarcoma have a predilection to spread to the lungs. This is why a CT scan of the lungs is needed at the time of diagnosis in order to determine the extent of the disease. The treatment of sarcoma requires a multidisciplinary approach. The team of doctors will include a surgeon, an oncologist, and a radiation oncologist, but many other physicians will be needed throughout the treatment process.

In many cases, especially for an extremity Sarcoma can be treated with surgical excision and complex joint reconstruction. An orthopaedic oncologist has special training to perform such complex, limb-salvage procedures. In addition to surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may provide additional therapeutic benefit and this is determined on a case-by-case basis.

After initial treatment the patient requires routine surveillance to detect the local or systemic recurrence of the disease. Prognosis is dependent on many factors. Questions about prognosis can be directed to a sarcoma specialist.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

 

Soft Tissue Sarcoma Symptoms

 

Soft tissue sarcoma can present as a painful mass but most often it begins as a painless, enlarging mass. The rate at which it enlarges can vary. In the very beginning it can go unnoticed for some time because it fails to cause significant symptoms. As it enlarges it becomes more and more noticeable to the patient. It can become a cosmetic concern or a nuisance to the patient. If allowed to reach a critical mass it can begin to cause symptoms that are somewhat dependent on the local anatomy. Typically the symptoms are due to a local mass effect and include pain and dysfunction.

For example, a fast growing soft tissue sarcoma located in the groin area can put pressure on the local nerves and blood vessels if left untreated. This can cause pain and neurologic symptoms. Patients may describe burning or numbness. In addition, the mass can compress the blood vessels and cause swelling in the leg. In some cases soft tissue sarcomas can even erode through the skin and cause bleeding and infection. Prompt diagnosis is critical. Soft tissue sarcoma left untreated will continue to enlarge locally and can spread to other areas of the body (metastasize).

All masses warrant evaluation by a physician. The diagnosis of a soft tissue sarcoma in the extremities requires a consultation with a sarcoma specialist. The clinician will take a history and do a physical exam. Typically an MRI scan is very helpful evaluating masses in the extremities and pelvis. If the MRI scan is non-diagnostic, and concern for cancer remains, a biopsy will be required to establish a diagnosis. Most often a needle biopsy is performed by a radiologist and coordinated by the treating surgeon.

The treatment of soft tissue sarcoma requires a multidisciplinary approach. The team of doctors will include a surgeon, an oncologist, and a radiation oncologist, but many other physicians will be needed throughout the treatment process. In many cases, especially for an extremity soft tissue sarcoma, it can be treated with a limb salvage surgical excision. An orthopedic oncologist has special training to perform such complex procedures. In addition to surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may provide additional therapeutic benefit and this is determined on a case-by-case basis.

After initial treatment the soft tissue sarcoma patient requires routine surveillance to detect the local or systemic recurrence of disease. Prognosis is dependent on many factors. Questions about prognosis can be directed to a soft tissue sarcoma specialist.

Related:
Benign and Malignant Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors
Joint Replacement, Joint Revision, and Prothetic Infection

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