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July is Sarcoma Awareness Month

What You Should Know About Sarcoma

July is Sarcoma Awareness Month. Here’s what you should know about this type of cancer.

Sarcoma is a broad type of cancer that can occur in any location in the body. It’s usually found in bones or soft-connective tissues like muscle, fat, tendons, blood vessels, nerves or the lining of joints. There are more than 70 different types of sarcomas.

Treatment depends on the type of sarcoma, its location, the aggressiveness of cell growth, the cancer’s spread and other health factors (such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, previous history of cancer, heredity and more). Types of treatment may include:

  • Surgery, with the goal of completely removing all of the cancer cells while trying to preserve function.
  • Radiation therapy, using beams with high-powered energy (protons, X-rays) to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy, a drug treatment (IV or oral) that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy, a drug treatment that uses a person’s own immune system to battle the cancer cells.   
  • Targeted therapy, where doctors test to see what drugs might work best to fight the specific type of sarcoma and then use these to attack weaknesses in the cancer cells.
  • Ablation therapy, which kills cancer cells by applying heat and electricity, very cold liquids or high-frequency sound waves. 
  • Clinical trials, where new and emerging treatments are offered.

A team of multiple doctors, specialists and others help treat and care for people with sarcoma. These include, among others:

  • Oncologist: A medical doctor specializing in cancer, who’s the leader of the care team and determines the person’s specific treatment plan.
  • Radiation Oncologist: The doctor who manages the radiation therapy (if needed).
  • Primary Care Provider: The person’s regular doctor (for example, the doctor they go see for their yearly physicals), who can help them deal with their symptoms and set up referrals to specialist doctors.
  • Palliative Care Provider: The provider who looks at the “big picture” and helps the person manage pain, loss of appetite, nausea and any side effects from their treatment.
  • Pathologist: The doctor who reviews biopsy specimens and makes diagnoses.
  • Pharmacist: Pharmacists mix the chemotherapy drugs and they’re excellent resources for helping people manage their symptoms.

In addition to all these doctors and specialists, there’s one final member of the care team who helps bring everything (and everyone) together: Care coordinators.  They are often available through a person’s health plan or their hospital.

For information on what you should know about sarcoma, visit here.

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