Soft tissue sarcoma is a rare cancer type that affects the tissues that surround vital parts of the body. Soft Tissue Sarcoma occurs when cells have mutations in the DNA and the cells become unstable and divide too quickly. This results in the cells forming a tumor that can grow to affect other parts of the body.
It is quite a complicated cancer type that has over 50 subtypes. Sarcoma is most commonly found in the muscles, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and tendons as well as other areas – and it can occur anywhere in the body.
Diagnosing Sarcoma in its early stages is difficult and the patient may not feel any symptoms at first. However, as the tumors grow, several side effects begin to occur:
- A lump that increases in size over weeks or months
- Abdominal pain that increases in intensity
- Black stools (caused by bleeding in the stomach or bowels)
There is no one cause of Sarcoma, often the underlying cause remains unknown. The development of the cell mutation also varies depending on the type of soft tissue sarcoma that you have.
As part of the diagnosis process, your doctor will identify if any lumps are tumors and whether the tumor is a result of soft tissue sarcoma. If Soft tissue sarcoma is identified, then the next step is to diagnose what kind of soft tissue sarcoma you have so the proper treatment can be administered.
Sarcoma is often described by its ‘grade’ this refers to how much the affected cells have mutated. The higher the grade the more potentially aggressive the sarcoma is, this will help doctors to determine how quickly the sarcoma will spread and what other parts of the body may be vulnerable. Your doctor will combine this information to determine the best treatment plan for you.
Possibilities of Early Diagnosis
The best chance of catching soft tissue sarcoma early is by undergoing a genetic test. It is advisable that patients with a strong family history of soft tissue sarcoma, or other cancers in youth, speak to their doctor about the possibility of genetic testing. Your doctor will inform you of the advantages and disadvantages of taking a genetic test based on your medical history.
Currently, there is no screening process available for those who have no family history of soft tissue sarcoma. Instead, it is advised that you contact your healthcare provider if you notice any unexplained lumps or growths that may be cause for concern.