Sarcoma Awareness MonthJuly 10, 2023
'Sarcoma' is the general term used to refer to a broad group of cancers that begin in the soft tissues and bones. It is a type of cancer that occurs in various locations of the body. Roughly 15 people are diagnosed with sarcoma daily; however, 75% of the public aren’t familiar with this type of cancer.
Sarcoma Awareness Month is observed every July. In November of 2007, a group of advocates came together in Seattle to gather all of the sarcoma non-profit organizations under a single united effort. Together they determined that the world was in need of a month dedicated to sarcoma awareness. Sarcoma awareness is symbolized by the Yellow Ribbon.
This Sarcoma Awareness month, True Care would like to call attention to this ‘Forgotten Cancer,’ and raise awareness on the many ways Sarcomas can form and what to look out for while caring for vulnerable loved ones.
What are Sarcomas?
Sarcomas form when immature bone or soft tissue cells have changes to their DNA, and they develop into cancer cells that grow in an unregulated way. They may eventually form a mass or tumor that can invade nearby healthy tissues. Sarcomas are rare, about one percent of all adult cancer diagnoses are sarcoma, therefore it is rare for adults. However, about 1700 children in the United States are diagnosed with either a bone or a soft tissue sarcoma each year. There are three main types of Sarcoma:
- Osteosarcoma: which develops in the cells that create bones.
- Pleomorphic sarcoma: which develops in the soft tissues of the arms, legs and abdomen.
- Rhabdomyosarcoma: which develops in the cells that create skeletal muscles. Spindle cell sarcoma is a sub variety of Rhabdomyosarcoma, which typically originates in a long bone such as in an arm or leg.
Within these main types are over 70 subtypes. Some of the most common types include:
- Angiosarcoma, (vascular sarcoma), which develops in the cells that create the walls of blood cells or lymphatic vessels
- Chondrosarcoma, which develops in cartilage cells
- Clear cell sarcoma, which usually originates in deep soft tissues surrounding the muscles and tendons in the lower legs and feet
- Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP), which develops in skin
- Epithelioid sarcoma, a soft-tissue tumor that often originates under the skin of a finger, hand, forearm, lower leg or foot
- Ewing's sarcoma, which develops in immature soft tissue or bone cells
- Fibrosarcoma, (fibroblastic sarcoma), which develops in fibrous tissue
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors, which develop in the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract
- Kaposi sarcoma, which develops in the cells that line the inside of blood cells or lymphatic vessels
- Leiomyosarcoma, which develops in the smooth muscles of the organs in the abdomen and pelvis
- Liposarcoma, which develops in fatty tissue
- Myeloid sarcoma, a form of blood cancer that develops outside the bone marrow
- Spindle cell sarcoma, which typically originates in a long bone such as in an arm or leg
- Synovial sarcoma, which develop in the cells near the joints and tendons
In most cases, it’s not clear what causes sarcoma. Family history and exposure to chemicals or radiation may increase risk. Symptoms depend on tumor type and location. They may include a noticeable lump or pain. Treatment may include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Soft tissue sarcoma can be a serious medical issue. Like many forms of cancer, healthcare providers have more success treating soft tissue sarcomas if they diagnose the tumor before it spreads. Without treatment, soft tissue sarcomas may spread (metastasize) and affect other areas of your body.
Caring for loved ones with Sarcoma:
Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in people of all ages, but like most cancers, the risk increases as we get older. Around 40 in 100 soft tissue sarcomas (40%) are diagnosed in people aged 65 or older. The growth rate of soft-tissue sarcoma is highly variable, but in general it will grow noticeably over weeks to months. Any mass that grows in this time frame needs urgent medical evaluation. Even a mass that grows slowly over years should still be evaluated to determine if cancer is present.
It can be very difficult to deal with a cancer diagnosis and to see a loved one go through treatment. Here are some ways that you can help a person with cancer as they battle the disease:
- Provide Love & Support: One of the best things you can do for your loved one with sarcoma is to provide emotional support and love. They are still your loved one and want to see you, talk to you, laugh with you. Try to treat them like you normally would, while also acknowledging their new health challenges.
- Attend Doctor Appointments: Your loved one may have a lot of doctor appointments to manage their treatment plan. Sometimes medical jargon can be confusing or daunting, so it can be helpful to have someone else there. Attend appointments as you are able and take an active role in your loved one’s care. Ask questions and make sure you and your loved one understand all the options. But make sure you leave any final decisions on treatment to your loved one if they are able.
- Prepare Healthy Meals: When you don’t feel well, one of the last things you want to do is cook food. But it’s important for individuals to maintain a balanced diet to keep their strength up. Help your loved one by preparing some meals. Or, if you don’t live nearby, you can order some meals to be delivered to your loved one’s home. Just keep any food restrictions and preferences in mind.
- Assist with Getting Around: Seniors who have sarcoma may experience joint pain, swelling, or even unexpected broken bones. These symptoms can make it painful to get around. Additionally, they may need surgery to remove part of or all the cancer cells. You can assist your loved one by helping them get around the house safely. This could include rearranging furniture, moving commonly used items, helping them use a walker or wheelchair, etc. You can refer to True Care’s fall risk blog for ideas to help your loved one avoid dangerous falls.
- Keep the House Clean: Another activity no one wants to do when they don’t feel well is clean — and many of us don’t want to do it even when we are healthy! But you can help your loved one as they fight sarcoma by keeping their home clean. This can mean doing laundry, washing dishes, and keeping their pace neat and tidy.
- Hire a Professional Caregiver: If you don’t live near your loved one or you’re not available to be there to support them because of other responsibilities, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Caregivers can perform all the duties we’ve outlined here with the same care and attention that you would provide. And even if you live nearby, hiring a caregiver can help you get back to focusing on your relationship with your loved one instead of taking care of them.
Summing it up:
There are many different types of sarcoma, and yet most people are unaware of its existence. While it's not a common cancer, Sarcoma is still a difficult diagnosis for any senior and their family members. Seniors with sarcoma may require extra assistance at home to help them remain comfortable and keep up with daily tasks.
At True Care, our caregivers are carefully screened and chosen for their character and warm communication to deliver our signature in-home care experience. They are prepared to assist seniors in a variety of situations including a Sarcoma diagnosis. If you or a loved one are in need of anytime care assistance, please do not hesitate to give us a call to set up a consultation, or visit any of our offices conveniently located across the five boroughs. Treating cancer can be hard on a senior physically, mentally, and even financially. True Care is here to assist with any obstacles you may face during your journey fighting sarcoma.
DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.No comments found.
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