Cancerous tumour of the connective tissues is termed as Sarcoma. Normal connective tissue includes nerves, bones, fat, blood vessels, muscles, and cartilage. Sarcoma is divided into two main groups- soft tissue sarcomas & bone sarcomas.
- Soft Tissue sarcoma (STS): Soft Tissue Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer. It comprises approximately 1% of all cancers diagnosed. STS can occur in the muscles, fat, fibrous tissues and synovial tissues (tissues around joints), blood vessels, tendons. Approximately 40 % occur in the legs usually at or above the knee. 30% in the shoulders, chest, abdomen, or hips, 10% develop in the hands and arms, another 20% in the head and neck. Soft tissue sarcoma’s can invade and spread to the nearby area to develop secondary cancer or metastasis. They are very elastic and usually diagnosed when the tumor is of large size.
- Bone sarcoma: Second group of sarcoma is bone sarcoma or also called as the bone cancer. It could be primary when it starts within the bone or metastatic when it is spread to bones from other parts of the body. Bone consist of three types of tissue i.e. compact tissue which is the outer hard portion of the bone, cancellous tissue which is spongy tissue inside the bone containing the bone marrow, and subchondral tissue which is smooth bone tissue of joints. There are three types of bone sarcoma: Osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma and chondrosarcoma.
- OSTEOSARCOMA(Osteogenic sarcoma): The most common bone sarcoma is osteosarcoma, which is most likely to develop in large bones i.e. the shin bone, thigh bone or upper arm. The highest incidence of osteosarcoma is in children as it occurs in growing bones.
- EWING’S SARCOMA Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare form of bone sarcoma which is usually seen in teenagers. Most Ewing tumors occur in the bones. The most common sites are pelvis (hip bones), chest wall (such as the ribs or shoulder blades), mainly in the middle of the long bones.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma
These develop from soft tissues, such as muscles, fat, nerves, blood vessels or deep skin tissues. About 80 percent of sarcomas begin in soft tissues. Below are the commonest types:
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor - is the most common sarcoma of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Leiomyosarcoma - develops from smooth muscle in abdominal and pelvic organs and blood vessels. (Unlike skeletal muscle, which you can control voluntarily, smooth muscle isn’t controlled consciously.)
- Liposarcoma - develops from fat tissue, most often in the back of the abdominal cavity but also in the soft tissues of the limbs.
- Pleomorphic sarcoma - usually occurs in the limbs (often the legs) and may also occur in the abdomen.
These cancers, also called osseous sarcomas, start in the bone. Bone cancers are much less common than benign (noncancerous) bone tumors or secondary cancers that spread to the bone from other locations (such as the lung or breast).
The most common bone cancer is osteosarcoma, which develops from cells that form bone.
Other sarcoma subtypes
Other common sarcoma subtypes include:
- Angiosarcoma — resemble blood or lymphatic vessels.
- Chondrosarcoma — develop from cartilage cells.
- Ewing’s sarcoma — arises from very primitive cells in the body. It can start in either soft tissue or bone.
- Fibrosarcoma — cancer of fibrous tissue.
- Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor — arises from nerves or related tissue outside of the brain and spinal cord.
- Rhabdomyosarcoma — resemble developing skeletal muscle. It most commonly grows in the arms or legs but can also develop in the head or neck or in the urinary or reproductive organs.
- Synovial sarcoma — can arise in any location in the body and often appears in young adults.
As soft tissue sarcoma is a very rare kind of cancer. Exact cause of soft tissue sarcoma is not defined. But still there are some risk factors which are found to be associated with high probability of getting soft tissue sarcoma.
- Therapeutic radiation: Exposure to radiations for treatment of cancer can make a person prone to develop soft tissue sarcoma later in life at same place of exposure.
- Environmental radiation: Exposure to radiations like radon gas is considered as high risk factor to develop STS.
- Genetic conditions: Some rare genetic conditions like Neurofibromatosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Retinoblastoma can increase the cancer risk.
- Chemicals: Chemicals like Vinyl Chloride which is used in Plastic industries is thought to increase the risk of liver sarcoma.
- Injuries: Though not proved, but many people with bone cancer encountered bone injuries during some time of their life.
- Other factors: Paget disease is a benign (non-cancerous) but pre-cancerous condition that affects one or more bones. It results in formation of abnormal bone tissue. Affected bones are heavy, thick, and brittle. They are weaker than normal bones and more likely to fracture. Bone cancer (usually osteosarcoma) develops in about 1% of those with Paget disease.
Symptoms of bone cancer can vary depending on the size and location of the tumor.
- Pain in the affected bone is the most common complaint of patients with sarcoma. Initially the pain is of less intensity but gradually it increases. It increases with physical activity and the person might limp if a leg is involved.
- Cancers in the bones of the neck can cause a lump in the back of the throat that can lead to trouble swallowing or make it hard to breathe. Swelling in the area of the pain may not occur until it is large in size. It might be possible to feel a lump or mass depending on the location of the tumor.
- Bone cancer can weaken the bone it develops in and increase risk of bone fractures. People with fracture due to bone cancer come up with sudden pain or difficulty in walking.
- Cancer in the bones of the spine can press on nerves, leading to numbness and tingling or even weakness.
Diagnosis is important for choosing the right bone cancer treatment. Here are a few diagnostic tests:
- X-rays: Most bone cancers show up on x-rays of the bone. The bone at the site of the cancer may appear “ragged” instead of solid. The cancer can also appear as a hole in the bone. A chest x-ray is often done to see if bone cancer has spread to the lungs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: MRI scans are often the best test for outlining a bone tumor.
- Computed tomography (CT) scans: CT scans are helpful in staging cancer. They help find out if the bone cancer has spread into the lungs, liver, or other organs. These scans also show the lymph nodes and distant organs where metastatic cancer might be present.
- PET scans: They are useful in looking for cancer throughout the body. It can sometimes help tell if a tumor is cancerous or benign.
- Biopsy: If cancer is present, the biopsy can tell the doctor if it is a primary bone cancer or cancer that started somewhere else and has spread to the bones (metastasis).
The only way to prevent sarcoma is to avoid exposure to chemicals like vinyl chloride and other known factors that can be avoided.
Cancer healer therapy helps to treat all types of sarcoma i.e. soft tissue sarcoma and bone sarcoma. Treatment works at immune level to enhance and boost the immune system so that the body itself starts fighting against the cancer cells to control and reduce their growth. Sometimes, a combination of therapies is used for bone cancer treatment. The treatment plan will depend on the type of the bone cancer and stage. Medicines can be given in cases where patients have already undergone surgery, to prevent the further growth of tumour or to prevent chances of recurrence. There are different lines of bone cancer treatment for different types of sarcoma which is decided by our team of doctors after evaluating the reports.