What is Sarcoma, and why do women must know about this ‘forgotten cancer’

As cancer awareness garners attention, it's important that women also know all about sarcoma.
Know all about sarcoma
Every year, July is observed as Sarcoma Awareness Month. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Avinash D. Talele Updated: 8 Aug 2022, 20:05 pm IST
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A sarcoma is a rare kind of cancer arising from the body’s connective tissues and soft tissues. There are more than 70 types of sarcomas. This tumor is rare because it comprises less than 1 percent of all malignancies worldwide. It was also referred as a ‘forgotten disease’.

Types of Sarcoma

1. Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of sarcoma. It arises from the bones. The most common area encroaching upon the lower end of the thigh bone, which is the femur around the knee. The illness presents painful swelling and difficulty walking, standing and maintaining posture.

2. Ewing sarcoma

is the second most common form of the problem. It mostly begins in the leg bones and the pelvis, but it can encroach itself on any bone.

3. Leiomyoarcoma or Uterina Sarcoma

Women’s most commonly occurring types of Sarcoma are Leiomyosarcoma and Uterine Sarcoma.

Women across the spectrum need to be aware of childhood sarcomas as it is fairly common in young girls of reproductive age. During this period, certain uterine sarcomas negatively impact the uterus as they can arise from the endometrium and have severe implications for fertility. It leads to problems in conceiving, miscarriages, and general health as, in most cases, the uterus and the surrounding tissues must be surgically removed.

Also read: This is the story of Chhaya who got bone cancer at the age of 13 and how she survived

Uterus sarcoma
A woman”s uterine health is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Signs of Sarcoma

The illness presents itself regularly with bleeding or diffused or leaking pain in the abdomen. Mostly anything that is painless, and growing, should be tested. Experts find it difficult to detect as the chances of detection in the initial stages are lower as there is no effective screening program. It can only be accurately diagnosed once it encroaches upon the surrounding pain-sensitive structures of the body. The symptoms can be very nonspecific, which is why mindfulness is necessary.

The survival rates for sarcomas depend upon the type of sarcoma, site and the stage, the area where it arises, stage within which it is diagnosed. The survival rates are excellent, with more than 90 to 95 percent survival rates. And in the advanced stages, though, it becomes a challenge. The survival rate is between 60 to 70 percent.

Early detection of cancer
Early detection of cancer cannot be underesitmated. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What science says about Sarcoma

The new research in this field has led to a significant breakthrough. Some of the resistant sarcomas that were not being emulated for treatment now have targeted oral therapies that drastically improve patients’ quality of life. We can overcome it by treating it together early, as we have an excellent cure rate in India, and it is treatable and manageable.

The last word

Sarcoma usually starts as a painless swelling over the body, is highly curable when detected early and treated by qualified experts. This is possible by multidisciplinary care and co-ordination with an oncologist.

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About the Author

Dr Avinash D. Talele Oncologist, Restora Onco Care Centre  ...Read More

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