July is Sarcoma Awareness Month. Sarcoma is a kind of cancer that can happen in many different parts of the body. However, it doesn’t just refer to one kind of cancer. Instead, it’s a group of cancers that start in soft tissues and bones. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are in excess of 70 kinds of this disease.
Kinds of Sarcoma
There are two main kinds:
• Soft Tissue Sarcoma.
Soft tissue sarcoma occurs in connective tissues. These are the tissues that support, connect, and surround systems within the body. Examples of connective tissues are blood vessels, tendons, fat, muscles, and nerves. Approximately 12,000 cases of soft tissue sarcoma are diagnosed per year.
Osteosarcoma happens in the bones. It is more common in children and young adults. Around 1,000 cases of osteosarcoma are diagnosed per year.
Symptoms and Causes
The symptoms depend on the kind and where it occurs. Soft tissue sarcomas aren’t as easy to find because they may appear anywhere on the body. They begin as a small lump that doesn’t hurt. As the lump gets bigger, it can press on nerves or a muscle, which can be uncomfortable or painful.
Osteosarcoma causes symptoms that are easier to spot, such as:
• Bone pain, which might be worse at night. The pain can come and go.
• Limping if the tumor is in the leg.
• Bones that break easily.
Cancer changes the DNA in cells so that they grow uncontrollably. Though doctors have a greater than ever understanding of how cancer works, what causes people to get the disease is still unknown. However, doctors have been unable to identify some risk factors for developing sarcoma. Risk factors are things that increase the likelihood of a person getting the disease. Some risk factors are:
• Radiation Therapy: If your aging relative has had radiation therapy to treat another kind of cancer, they are more likely to get sarcoma.
• Lymphedema: Lymphedema is swelling that occurs because of a buildup of lymph fluid. Having lymphedema increases the chances of getting angiosarcoma, a specific kind of sarcoma.
• Chemicals: Having been exposed to certain chemicals, like herbicides or industrial chemicals, increases the risk of the disease in the liver.
If your aging relative has sarcoma, an elderly care provider can help them during treatment and recovery. An elderly care provider can drive them to treatment appointments. Elderly care providers can also allow them to rest when treatment makes them tired. Elderly care providers can clean the house, cook meals, and do the laundry. And, an elderly care provider can offer emotional support to help them get through the ordeal.
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