Sarcoma - Medical Malpractice Lawyer
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A sarcoma is a cancer that occurs in any part of the body, including the bone or soft tissue. Approximately 60 percent of all soft tissue sarcomas show up in an arm or a leg while thirty percent begin in the trunk, including the abdomen, and ten percent occur in the head and neck region. It is a rare cancer in adults but is common among children. It represents approximately fifteen percent of all children's cancers.
Soft tissue sarcomas do not begin in the bone, while bony sarcomas do. Soft tissue sarcomas or STS begin in fat cells, in tendons, in nerves, in the synovium, in blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and muscles. It is usually not felt or seen when small but it can grow to great lengths and widths, interfering with the body's regular activities.
Each type of STS is named according to the cell from which it comes. They all look somewhat different when looked at under the microscope. STS, on the whole, are relatively rare but they can be very serious, especially when misdiagnosed or diagnosed when they have gotten very large. Even though they are different from one another, they are often treated the same or in similar ways.
Symptoms of sarcomas include the following. Remember they are often symptomatic when early in their course:
- A lump or swelling in the body
- Pain, when the sarcoma pushes on muscles or nerves
- Intestinal bleeding
- Intestinal blockage
The various names and causes of sarcoma include the following:
- Rhabdomyosarcoma - beginning in skeletal muscle.
- Leiomyosarcoma - begins in smooth muscle.
- Hemangiosarcoma - begins in blood vessels.
- Kaposi’s Sarcoma - Occurs in blood vessel walls.
- Lymphangiosarcoma - occurs in the lymph vessels.
- Synovial sarcoma - occurs in the joint synovium.
- Neurofibrosarcoma - seen in the peripheral nerves.
- Liposarcoma - occurring in fat cells.
- Fibrosarcoma - occurring in the fibrous tissue.
- Malignant fibrous histiocytoma - occurring in fibrous tissue of the legs.
- Dermatofibrosarcoma—occurring in the tissue just beneath the skin.
Causes of soft tissue sarcoma are unknown. Only Kaposi’s sarcoma has a known cause in having an infection with HHV-8. Some STS may be hereditary, including:
- Basal cell nevus syndrome is likely to develop into Rhabdomyosarcoma or Fibrosarcoma.
- Inherited retinoblastoma can increase the risk of soft tissue sarcoma due to an inherited retinoblastoma gene.
- Gardner's syndrome can lead to cancerous growths in the abdomen and intestines.
- Neurofibromatosis leads to nerve sheath tumors in about one in twenty with neurofibromatosis.
- Tuberous sclerosis can lead to getting Rhabdomyosarcoma.
- Werner's syndrome has a defect in the RECQL2 gene that causes an increased risk of getting STS.
- Radiation exposure can lead to sarcomas.
- Chemical exposure, such as that to vinyl chloride, herbicides and dioxin can increase the risk of STS.
The major risk factor for getting soft tissue sarcomas include one's age. The average age at diagnosis is 57 years of age although many are common to children. Chemical exposure as noted above can increase the risk and having previous treatment for other cancers, such as breast cancer, can increase the risk for sarcomas.
There can be complications of failing to diagnose a sarcoma during a reasonable period of time. If the sarcoma spreads to other organs, the body can decompensate and you can get systemic symptoms like shortness of breath in lung metastases.
Tests include CT scan, PET scan or MRI scan to locate the tumor. Even an ultrasound can show the presence of a solid tumor. After that, an open biopsy or a percutaneous biopsy can be done to identify the STS.
Tumors are then staged:
- Stage I involves small tumors that have not spread to other body areas
- Stage II involves abnormal looking cells that have not spread to lymph nodes
- Stage III involves very abnormal looking cells that have spread to lymph nodes
- Stage IV involves severely abnormal cells that have metastasized
Treatment involves surgery to remove localized cells. Sometimes radiation therapy is used to shrink the size of the tumor prior to surgery. Chemotherapy exists for the management of metastatic disease.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers
The medical profession which includes doctors, nurses and hospital technicians usually provides a caring service with a high standard of excellence however there are occasions when things do go wrong. Our litigation service is completely free and our lawyers will deal with your case using a contingency fee arrangement which means that if you don't succeed in receiving a financial settlement then your sarcoma lawyer won't get paid.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here