Due to a lack of awareness and understanding sarcoma is still considered to be the “forgotten cancer.” Efforts are being made to encourage research and drug development. During Sarcoma Awareness Month we aim to further highlight the extraordinary challenges that sarcoma patients face and the need for more sarcoma research and better sarcoma therapies. Soft tissue sarcoma, a cancer of the softer parts of our body, mostly involving our limbs (arms and legs) occasionally also occurs in the chest, face, and abdomen. But some of the important things that we need to understand are what causes this disease and what are the risk factors associated with this type of cancer?
According to Dr Amit Bhargava, Senior Consultant – Medical Oncology Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad understanding causes and risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma is quite difficult.
“Most of the sarcoma we see happen in individuals with no risk factors. But yes, a certain category of people may have an increased risk. To start with family history is very important. Certain diseases like Li-Fraumeni’s syndrome which runs in families predispose an individual to certain cancers like Breast, Colon, Brain tumors, Blood cancers, and Soft Tissue Sarcomas. People with a family history should be on a regular follow-up to rule out these cancers,” Dr Bhargava said.
Neurofibromatosis a benign tumor of the nerves, which also runs in families has been found to have an increased incidence of STS. Certain childhood cancers like Retinoblastoma (Cancer of the Eye) also predispose to sarcomas during their adulthood.
Who are at risk?
High doses of radiation exposure (primarily when used for treating other cancers) increases your chances of getting Blood cancers and soft tissue sarcomas. A routine X-Ray or CT does not do so, as the exposure dose is very low. People working and getting exposed to certain chemicals like Phenols, Benzene, herbicides, etc. also have an increased risk.
All said and done, one may have all these risk factors and still may not develop soft tissue sarcoma and despite not having all the above one may develop this sarcoma. The best way to avoid the dreaded consequences of sarcoma are yearly check-ups with an Oncologist.