Dr. Sreeraj Rajan, Consultant – Orthopaedic Oncology, Aster MIMS, Calicut
Sarcoma is a form of cancer that affects the connective tissue in the body. They are broadly divided into two main categories depending upon the structure which they arise from i.e. Bone Sarcoma and Soft tissue sarcoma. While bone cancer predominantly occurs in young individuals, soft tissue cancer typically affects the middle aged and elderly. The likelihood of a successful outcome is significantly increased by early detection and adequate treatment.
Types of Sarcoma
Bone Cancer: Bone cancer typically affects people between the ages of 10 and 20. The primary cause for bone cancer cases largely remains unidentified. However, radiation exposure and certain rare genetic conditions may increase the risk of developing it. The fact that bone cancer spreads to the lungs in about 70% of instances is problematic since it puts patients at serious risk.
Soft Tissue Cancer: Soft tissue sarcomas can happen at any age but unlike bone cancer, soft tissue cancer primarily occurs in individuals over the age of 40. Soft tissue sarcoma may arise from muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and linings of the joints. And they are usually seen around arms, legs, chest and the back of your belly, or retroperitoneum. Just like bone sarcoma, soft tissue sarcoma can also spread to other parts of the body especially the lungs
Symptoms of Sarcoma
Bone Cancer in Children: In young patients, symptoms of bone cancer include persistent bone pain that gets worse over time and continues into the night, bone pain that persists even after taking rest and medication, a noticeable lump over a bone or swelling and redness over the affected area .Children with bone cancer are also at an increased risk of bone fractures.
Soft Tissue Cancer Symptoms: Symptoms include a new lump or a fast-growing lump anywhere on your body, a lump which has become painful, any lump recurring after a surgery and lumps which are seen deep in the muscles.
Bone Cancer Treatment: When it comes to treating bone cancer, combination of chemotherapy and surgery are the primary options. Depending on the extent of cancer spread, amputation or limb- saving (salvage) surgery may be considered. But with advances in chemotherapy and innovations in surgical techniques, limb saving surgeries are now considered as standard treatment in most cases. In certain cases, artificial prosthesis or the recycling of a patient’s own bones can be utilized for surgical reconstruction. Additionally, computer assisted navigation surgery and custom made 3D printed patient specific implants are cutting-edge approaches that aids in precision during the surgical procedure.
Treatment for Soft Tissue Cancer: Treatment depends on things such as where the cancer has developed, the type of sarcoma , stage of the disease, and the general health of the patient. Surgery (Limb saving surgery) is the main treatment for soft tissue sarcomas. This may be combined with Radiotherapy and chemotherapy according to the type of sarcoma as an adjuvant therapy to kill any cancer cells that may still be present.
Sarcoma stands apart from many other diseases and forms of cancer due to its rarity and elusive nature regarding the root cause. Therefore, careful symptom monitoring and quick therapy initiation are crucial. With modern surgical and chemotherapy techniques, early detection can greatly increase the likelihood of effective therapy and cure. As there is chance of cancer coming back and spreading especially in high grade tumours, it is necessary to have regular follow up after initial treatment. It is crucial to be resilient, knowledgeable, and pro-active in seeking medical assistance at the early sign of any suspicious symptoms as we battle this formidable condition.