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Understanding Sarcomas

Sarcomas are one of the rarest forms of cancers that take origin in muscles, bone, nerves, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels and the fatty and fibrous tissues. They are known to affect almost any part of the body, on the inside or the outside. Depending on the organ they affect, most of the sarcomas are named after it.

GIST affects the gastrointestinal tract that includes the stomach and intestines. Gynaecological sarcomas affect the female reproductive system which includes the uterus, ovaries, vagina, vulva and Fallopian tubes. Retroperitoneal sarcomas affect the abdominal space that covers the abdominal organs and include kidneys, pancreas and bladder are located.

Like most cancer, early diagnosis flavors quick remission. Advice on treatment alternatives is based on the stage and grade of sarcomas. Sarcomas are best treated when they remain localised and have not spread to other part of the body, since the treatment options would be very specific and would rarely affect the healthy cells. In order to make sure, the best treatment alternative has been chosen for you, it is essential to understand stage and grade of sarcoma.

Grade determines its growth and spread to other tissue, which is confirmed by the means of various tests.

  • Low-grade indicates poor growing cancerous load, which are less aggressive and are highly amenable to treatment
  • Intermediate-grade means the growth is higher than normal cells and  need to be carefully and treated rigorously
  • High-grade means cancer cells are multiplying rapidly and are likely to spread to other organs

Stage determines the extent of spread.

  • Stage 1 and 2 indicates no spread to other parts of the body and cancer is low grade.
  • Stage 3 means a high grade cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Stage 4 indicates that cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatments Available for Sarcomas

Treatment alternatives are based on the stage and grade of your cancer and the type of sarcoma you have.

Surgery

Most preferred treatment alternative usually followed up by radiotherapy or chemotherapy. It involves removal of the tumour along with few normal cells aligning them, which prevents cancer cells from coming back.

Radiotherapy

This involves use of high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells and can be used before or after surgery. Pre-surgery radiation therapy is used for reducing the tumour load.  When used before surgery it aims to reduce the size of the tumour so it can be operated on and removed. Post-surgery radiotherapy helps in clearing margins off any cancerous cell.  

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. It is one of the most effective and most damaging treatment alternatives.

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