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Sarcoma: Know the signs and symptoms

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While it is considered a rarer cancer diagnosis, the American Cancer Society says that sarcoma still impacts over 13,400 individuals each year across the United States.

Sarcoma has over 50 variations, which are characteristically known as soft tissue tumors that are found in a variety of locations in the body and typically grow through locations with concentrated fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues or deep skin tissues. Because of this, they typically require surgery as a key part of treatment.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Surgical Oncology team works closely with oncologists to create a treatment plan that can also include radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted drug therapy.

“Because of their rarity and improved outcomes when treated by multidisciplinary teams, we strongly advise patients to seek care at a high-volume center such as the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB,” said Kristy Broman, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology and associate director for Quality of the O’Neal Cancer Service Line. “Here a patient’s care is coordinated between surgical, medical and radiation oncologists.”

Knowing the signs of sarcoma can be lifesaving as sometimes symptoms can mirror those of benign conditions. Speaking with a physician when you notice any major physical change or localized discomfort is important. Keep the following in mind when speaking with a health care professional:

  • Do not ignore any lumps or bumps that are growing. Even if there is not any pain around the area, notify a physician anyway.
  • Mention any abdominal pain that is not getting better. Let a physician know of any drastic stool or vomit changes. Approximately 40 percent of new sarcomas originate in the abdominal area.
  • If there is any bone pain or a broken bone that occurred with no clear injury, it is very important to address these concerns, as sarcoma can also grow in bone tissue.

If you have been recently diagnosed with sarcoma or would like to schedule an appointment with a UAB Medicine provider, call (205) 934-9999

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