What are sarcomas?
Sarcomas are cancers of the tissues that form bones, muscles, tendons, fat, blood vessels and nerves. Sarcomas are named more specifically by the type of tissue that they have arisen from, for example, sarcomas of fat are called lipo-sarcomas, sarcomas from bone are called osteo-sarcomas. Some sarcomas are so bizarre it is impossible to tell what they developed from and these are often given descriptive names, for example, pleomorphic sarcoma. They occur most commonly in children and teenagers but can affect people of any age. The limbs are the usual site of involvement but sarcomas can affect almost any part of the body.
Treatment usually involves a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery and may extend over many months. It will often require major surgery that involves removal of muscles and bones and sometimes amputation. Despite this aggressive treatment the cure rate is in the order of 50%.
Some of the more common sarcomas:
|Chondrosarcoma||Sarcoma arising from cartilage cells|
|Ewing’s sarcoma||Sarcoma arising from bone marrow cells|
|Malignant fibrous histiocytoma||Sarcoma arising from a cell of unknown origin|
|Osteosarcoma||Sarcoma arising from bone cells|
|Liposarcoma||Sarcoma arising from fat|
|Leiomyosarcoma||Sarcoma arising from muscle found in blood vessels or the uterus|
|Rhabdomyosarcoma||Sarcoma arising from muscle used for movement|
|Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour||Sarcoma arising from a nerve|
|Synovial sarcoma||Sarcoma arising from a cell that remains unknown|
What is bone cancer?
Secondary bone cancer is cancer that has started in another place and has spread to the bones. This happens most commonly with breast and prostate cancer.
Cancer that spreads to bone causes weakening of the bone and can result in the bone breaking. Damage to the bone often leads to pain and loss of function (it can also cause metabolic disturbances due to the breakdown of bone tissues).
Treatment may involve a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Surgery may involve stabilisation or even replacement of weakened bones with metallic prostheses.