Let me share with you a quick story of a sarcoma survivor before we begin.
She was a young healthy 23-year-old girl living her life like every other person. One day she noticed a tiny ball-like bump on her thigh and she constantly ignored it thinking it was one of those things that just appears and disappears whenever. She neither paid attention to it nor found a solution until it began to hurt weeks after and got even bigger.
Her reason for not going to the hospital was the cost of treatment. Take a minute and think about this, would you prefer an early diagnosis and quick treatment or you’d rather not know what is wrong with you? As always, early detection offers better chances of survival for any disease.
So, back to the story of this young lady, after so much delay, she eventually went to see a general health practitioner who took a good look at the bump and knew this was no ordinary bump even though there were no other symptoms to suggest otherwise. The doctor referred her for an MRI, she did the MRI and behold there was a tumour. She said to herself, it could be a random tumour or a cancerous one. So they went ahead and did a biopsy to be sure and sadly, the test showed that she had a sarcoma. She began treatment and thankfully she survived sarcoma.
The entire month of July is sarcoma awareness month and I bet a lot of people don’t know what sarcoma is.
In this article, we’ll talk about what sarcoma is, the signs, symptoms and treatment.
What is Sarcoma?
Sarcomas are a rare and deadly cancer, they form from the connective tissues in the body and they can show up in any part of the body. They can appear in the bone, soft tissues, fats, nerves and other areas in the arms and legs, although they are very rare.
There are about 16,000 sarcomas diagnosed every year. As usual, I always advise that people observe and monitor their bodies for any changes and new patches, bumps and pain so that you can be sure what you are dealing with.
Symptoms of Sarcoma
Sarcomas are often misdiagnosed because they don’t appear with any alarming signs or symptoms. It could be a lump or bump, without or with persisting pain or swelling that keeps enlarging or an unexplained pain that doesn’t ease up with a pain med or a balm. There are up to 50 types of soft tissue sarcomas recognised by the world health organisation
Because sarcomas don’t appear cancerous or malignant at first, one of the ways to test is through imaging first and then a biopsy in order to know the kind of treatment and care needed to give the patient. Biopsy must be done properly if not it can lead to further complications. Sarcoma is pretty rare and so, not every oncologist may be able to treat sarcoma except if they have had a prior encounter with a sarcoma patient.
This rare kind of cancer can affect children, young adults and older people. There’s no age limit for it and because the exact cause remains unknown, there’s no way of preventing it other than early detection and treatment.
Treatment for sarcomas include chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy
After treatment for sarcomas, there’s a high risk of infertility in both men and women, amnesia as well as other side effects which may last for six months after treatment to about five years or even more.
The essence of this awareness is to encourage early diagnosis as delayed diagnosis or treatment will make surgery difficult or cause cancer to spread to other parts which can lead to loss of other body parts depending on the location of the sarcoma. Any bump larger than 5cm on any part of the body should be given close attention.
This year’s theme, ‘Go Yellow Anywhere for Sarcoma Awareness’ highlights the word ‘anywhere’ as sarcoma is a really unique cancer that can form anywhere in the body. Sarcoma patients are just like other cancer patients too, they need emotional, psychological and financial support to get well and fight the disease. Show your support for children and people fighting cancer today.