Bone & Soft Tissue Sarcoma

These cancers develop in connective tissue, soft tissue or bone. That means they don’t develop in major organs, which is good news. But tumors can grow large before their impact is noticed.

One step at a time.

Understanding Sarcomas

Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are cancers that develop in connective tissue, soft tissue or bone. What that means for you is that they don't develop in major organs. However, it can also mean tumors grow large before their impact is noticed.

Because these cancers can develop in almost any part of the body, they can cause a wide variety of symptoms. But they can also be treated in many different ways, from surgery to radiation and chemotherapy.

Don't Go it Alone

INTEGRIS Health and INTEGRIS Cancer Institute are with you every step of the way, with the region's foremost collection of therapies, physicians and specialists. We'll explain the details of your specific sarcoma, the best way to fight it help you understand how the diagnosis and treatment will affect your life.

We'll walk every step by your side, from the first diagnosis and staging to treatment and even beyond – with rehabilitation designed specifically for cancer survivors.

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Understanding Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcoma often doesn't cause symptoms in its early stages. In fact, symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma may not show up until the cancer has grown for some time. The following are some of the more common symptoms of this cancer:

  • A growing lump or swelling on the body, which is usually painless
  • Belly pain and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite or feeling full after not eating very much
  • Red or tar-like black stool

Your doctor will ask you about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors, and family history of disease if soft tissue sarcoma is suspected. Your doctor will also give you a physical exam and perform one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • X-rays: If you have a lump, your doctor may take an X-ray of the lump first. If sarcoma is found, you may need a chest X-ray to look for spread to your lungs.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of your body and can sometimes determine whether a tumor is a cyst (a fluid-filled sac that is probably not cancer) or a solid mass that is more likely to be cancer.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This test uses magnets and radio waves to take detailed pictures of the inside of your body. An MRI can show details about the tumor, as well as look for cancer spread to other parts of the body.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: A CT scan uses X-rays taken from many angles to make very detailed cross-section pictures of tumors and other structures in your body. Like MRI, it can be used to look at a tumor or to look for cancer spread.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET):  For this test, a small amount of radioactive sugar is injected into your blood. Cancer cells take up more of the sugar than normal cells and can then be detected with a special camera.
  • Needle Biopsy: In this procedure, your doctor puts a thin, hollow needle through your skin and into the tumor to get a sample of it. If the tumor is deep in your body, this is often done during a CT or ultrasound.
  • Surgical Biopsy: You may have a biopsy during surgery. If the tumor is small and easily accessible, your doctor may take out the whole tumor. This is called an excisional biopsy. If the tumor is larger or would be harder to fully remove, your doctor will only take out a small piece of it. This is called an incisional biopsy.

For many soft tissue sarcomas, the goal of treatment is to cure the cancer. If a cure isn’t possible, treatment may be used to shrink the cancer or keep it under control to improve your quality of life. Several types of treatment are available, each treatment has its own goal, and they may be used in combination.

  • Surgery: Surgery is often the main treatment for soft tissue sarcomas. The goal of surgery is to remove the whole tumor or as much of it as possible, while preserving as much as possible of the affected body part in order to maintain normal function. Tumors larger than a certain size will most likely also be treated with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, either before or after surgery.
  • Radiation Therapy: This is also called radiotherapy. The goal of this treatment is to kill cancer cells using powerful energy from radiation beams or other sources. Radiation may be used before, during, and/or after surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: The goal of this treatment is to use medicines to destroy sarcoma cells. In most cases, your doctor injects chemo medicines into your body through a vein. The blood then carries the medicines throughout your body, killing cancer cells. You may receive chemo before or after surgery, or alone if the cancer has spread into other parts of the body.
  • Targeted Therapy: This treatment uses medicines that attack specific parts of cancer cells. They can help treat certain types of soft tissue sarcomas, usually if other treatments are no longer working. Most of the time, you take these medicines each day as pills.
  • Supportive Care: Your doctor may suggest treatments that help ease your symptoms, but don’t treat the cancer. These can sometimes be used with other treatments. If it is believed that treatments are more likely to do you more harm than good, your doctor may suggest supportive care.
  • Clinical Trials: Researchers are always looking for new ways to treat soft tissue sarcoma. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Talk with your doctor to find out if there are any clinical trials you should consider.

At INTEGRIS, we offer a wide variety of support programs and services along with the Troy and Dollie Smith Wellness Center to help patients with brain cancer and their loved ones manage the physical and emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Support services for bone and soft tissue sarcoma include:

  • Cancer screenings
  • Clinical social work services

  • Counseling
  • Mind, body therapies including acupuncture, massage, and yoga
  • Multi-disciplinary clinic coordination

  • Nutrition consultations

  • Pastoral care, spiritual support and relaxation techniques
  • Patient and family support groups
  • Patient navigation and survivor care planning

  • Research and clinical trials
  • Resource Room

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