Sarcoma muscle cancer

Sarcoma muscle cancer is a rare type of cancer that is more commonly found in children than in adults. It is so rare in adults that it only accounts for about 2 percent of all adult cancers. However, it is among the top 5 most common forms of cancer found in children. There are around 9,800 new incidences of sarcoma muscle cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. This is an extremely malignant cancer that affects the connective tissues in the body.

It is estimated that about 55 – 60% of all sarcoma muscle cancers develop in either the arms or the legs. Another 15 – 25% will begin in the trunk muscles while only about 8% affect the muscles in the neck area. There are actually two types of muscles found in the body. These are the skeletal muscles that are attached to the bones and the smooth muscles that are found in internal organs like the stomach, intestines or heart as well as the linings of the blood vessels.

When sarcoma muscle cancer is found on the smooth or internal muscles of the body the tumors are referred to as Leiomyosarmomas. This type of sarcoma muscle cancer can be found anywhere in the body that contains smooth muscle tissue, but it usually affects the gastrointestinal tract, uterus or blood vessel linings in adults. A malignant tumor found on skeletal or connective muscle tissue is called a Rhabdomyosarcoma. This type is usually found on the arms or legs, head and neck area as well as the reproductive organs like the bladder or vagina. These types of tumors are found in 50% or more of the cases involving children with this type of cancer.

The first sign of this type of cancer is a painless lump or swelling which will later begin to become painful as it grows and presses on a nearby nerve. Since it grows in soft tissue the tumor may become quite large before it is detected because of the lack of pain.

Diagnosis of muscle cancer is done by CAT scans or MRI scans. A chest x-ray can detect sarcoma muscle cancer in the lungs. A pathologist needs to examine the tumor to make a definite diagnosis so this necessitates a biopsy to be performed. Once diagnosed the primary treatment for this type of cancer is surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue. The entire muscle group must be removed in some instances. If the tumor is found on a connective muscle on one of the limbs, amputation of the limb is common and has been traditionally done in all cases in the past. A tumor near a joint may require the removal of the joint as well. New advanced conservative techniques are being done now to spare limbs if possible. Amputations are only done now in about 5% of the cases. Sarcoma muscle tumors that are less than 5 centimeters can be treated with surgical removal of the tumor alone. However most tumors are discovered when they are larger and necessitate the use of radiation and chemotherapy as well.

Radiation therapy is commonly used to effectively reduce the recurrence of cancer if the limb is not amputated. It can also be used before surgery to decrease the size of the tumor. Chemotherapy is used to reduce the size of the tumor prior to surgery as well. When someone is diagnosed with sarcoma muscle cancer the prognosis depends on the location of the tumor. Cancerous tumors located near the surface on a limb will have a better prognosis than one located deep inside the body on a smooth muscle involving an internal organ. The cause of this type of cancer is not exactly known. However, prior exposures to radiation, chemical agents, a weak immune system, or Li-Faumeni Syndrome are suspected.

Last updated on Mar 2nd, 2010 and filed under Cancer Research. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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