What is sarcoma?

Sarcoma: Overview

Sarcoma is cancer of certain tissues of the body, such as the muscles, connective tissues (like tendons), blood vessels, bones, and fat. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control. The cells can spread to other areas of the body. Sarcoma is a general name for several rare cancers that occur in these tissues.

Doctors treat this type of cancer with surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Other treatments include immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Your doctor will treat you based on how quickly or slowly the type of cancer you have may spread, how far the cancer has spread, and your overall health. One or more treatments may be used.

What are the symptoms of sarcoma?

The symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. They may include swelling or a lump near the tumor. A tumor that presses against nerves or organs may cause symptoms such as pain or trouble breathing. A bone tumor may cause bone pain.

How is sarcoma treated?

Treatment for sarcoma is based on the type, location, and stage of the cancer and other things, such as your overall health. Common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. For certain types of tumors, other treatments may be used. These may include ablation, embolization, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.

How is sarcoma diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about your health. You may have imaging tests, such as an X-ray, a CT scan, an MRI, or a bone scan. Blood tests may be done. A sample (biopsy) of the tumor may be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

How can you care for yourself when you have sarcoma?

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions to relieve pain. Pain from cancer and surgery can almost always be controlled. Use pain medicine when you first notice pain, before it becomes severe.
  • Eat healthy food. When you eat, focus on foods with enough protein and calories, or try liquid meal replacements. This can help you keep up your strength.
  • Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired. Take part in rehab if it's recommended.
  • Get enough sleep, and take time to do things you enjoy. This can help reduce stress.
  • Think about joining a support group. Or discuss your concerns with your doctor or a counselor.
  • If you are vomiting or have diarrhea:
    • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other clear liquids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
    • When you are able to eat, try clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Other good choices include dry toast, crackers, cooked cereal, and gelatin dessert, such as Jell-O.
  • If you have not already done so, prepare a list of advance directives. Advance directives are instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.

What is sarcoma?

Sarcoma is a cancer that starts in bone or soft tissues (like muscles, tendons, nerves, or fat). Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells. These cells form tumors. The abnormal cells can spread to other parts of the body. There are many types of sarcoma. They can occur in both adults and children.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.