Sarcoma is a cancer that arises from transformed cells of mesenchymal origin. Thus, malignant tumors made of cancerous bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, vascular, or hematopoietic tissues are, by definition, considered sarcomas. This is in contrast to a malignant tumor originating from epithelial cells, which are termed carcinoma. Sarcomas are quite rare - common malignancies, such as breast, colon, and lung cancer, are almost always carcinoma.

Sarcomas are given a number of different names based on the type of tissue from which they arise. For example, osteosarcoma arises from bone, chondrosarcoma arises from cartilage, liposarcoma arises from fat, and leiomyosarcoma arises from smooth muscle.

In addition to being named based on the tissue of origin, sarcomas are also assigned a grade (low, intermediate, or high) based on the presence and frequency of certain cellular and subcellular characteristics associated with malignant biological behavior.

Low grade sarcomas are usually treated surgically, although sometimes radiation therapy or chemotherapy are used. Intermediate and high grade sarcomas are more frequently treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Since higher grade tumors are more likely to undergo metastasis (invasion and spread to locoregional and distant sites), they are treated more aggressively. The recognition that many sarcomas are sensitive to chemotherapy has dramatically improved the survival of patients.

Surgery is important in the treatment of most sarcomas. Limb sparing surgery, as opposed to amputation, can now be used to save the limbs of patients in at least 90% of extremity tumor cases. Additional treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy, may be administered before and/or after surgery. Chemotherapy significantly improves the prognosis for many sarcoma patients, especially those with bone sarcomas. Treatment can be a long and arduous process, lasting about a year for many patients, but the process is necessary in order to cure the disease.

  • Liposarcoma treatment consists of surgical resection, with chemotherapy not being used outside of the experimental setting. Adjuvant radiotherapy may also be used after surgical excision for liposarcoma.
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma is treated with surgery, radiotherapy, and/or chemotherapy. The majority of rhabdomyosarcoma patients have between a 50-85% survival rate.
  • Osteosarcoma is treated with surgical resection of as much of the cancer as possible, often along with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Radiotherapy is a second alternative although not as successful.

article source: wikipedia 

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