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Orthopaedic Oncology

About Oncology: Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Dr. Patrick Toy Dr. Partick Toy

What is oncology?

Oncology is the field of medicine devoted to the treatment of cancer. The presence of tumors creates a very unique circumstance within orthopaedics. The specialists at Campbell Clinic recognize this and are experienced in dealing with musculoskeletal tumor surgery.

What is a soft tissue sarcoma?

It is cancerous tumor that grows in muscles, fat, joints, nerves, or blood vessels. Soft tissue sarcomas are rare - less than 1% of all new cancer cases diagnosed.

Dr. Robert Heck Dr. Robert Heck

Where in the body are they more likely to develop?

They can arise almost anywhere in the body. About 43% occur in the extremities (e.g., arms, legs); 34% occur in and around internal organs (e.g., heart, uterus); 10% occur in the trunk; and 13% occur in other locations.

What causes soft tissue sarcomas?

Studies have connected soft tissue sarcomas to exposure to certain chemicals, high-dose radiation, certain viral infections, and to specific genetic abnormalities, but in most cases, the cause is unknown.

What are the symptoms?

People with a soft tissue sarcoma usually notice an enlarging mass in the truck or limbs. This may or may not cause pain, numbness, and/or skin breakdown when the mass eventually presses on the surrounding tissue structures.

How is it diagnosed?

Imaging studies and tests determine how much a tumor has grown and whether any other areas of the body are involved. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is used to identify the tumor's size and depth. A biopsy (taking samples of the tumor) is done to determine whether the tumor is malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous). The biopsy enables your doctor to identify the type of cancer, where it came from, and whether it is high grade (most aggressive) or low grade.

How is it treated?

A multidisciplinary treatment team includes the surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, and pathologist. The doctor's main goal is to control the spread of the tumor with the least amount of disability to the patient's function and quality of life.

What is the survival rate?

Every type of tumor has its own course, and every patient responds to the disease and its various treatments differently. Most major cancer centers report overall survival rates in the range 60% at 5 years. Survival rates depend on the patient's age and gender, as well as the size, grade, and stage of the tumor when it was first identified. The best results are achieved with small, superficial tumors.

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