Sarcomas are rare cancers accounting for <1% of all malignancies. Most commonly, soft tissue sarcomas are diagnosed as a mass that is not associated with pain or other symptoms. Symptoms from pressure, traction, or entrapment of nerves or muscles can occur. Sarcomas can be divided into two groups: (1) those derived from bone and (2) those derived from soft tissues.
Nearly 12,000 new cases of soft tissue sarcomas occur each year in the United States. Approximately 60% of soft tissue sarcomas arise in the extremities, with lower extremities three times more likely than upper extremities.
Soft tissue sarcomas can arise in muscles and tendons, fibrous tissue, synovial tissue, fat, blood vessels, and nerves. With the possibility of soft tissue sarcoma starting in so many different types of tissue, it is not surprising that approximately 20 different groups of soft tissue sarcomas are recognized. Some examples include liposarcomas that arise from fat, rhabdomyosarcomas, which occur in skeletal muscle, and leiomyosarcomas that result from smooth muscle.
When considering outcomes, the histological grade, location, size of the primary tumor and stage are most important. Due to the large variety of types of soft tissue sarcomas, treatment plans need to be individualized. Depending on the clinical circumstances, surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy might be part of the treatment plan. Newer targeted therapies might also be helpful.
Bone sarcomas are more rare than soft tissue sarcomas with about 3,000 new cases in the United States each year. Several types of benign or non-cancerous bone tumors have the potential to become cancerous. The most common cancerous tumors of bone include plasma cell tumors that arise from bone marrow, and osteosarcomas, chondrosarcomas and Ewing’s sarcomas, which arise from bone itself.
There are multiple studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of hyperthermia in patients who have a sarcoma. Hyperthermia can be added to a sarcoma cancer treatment plan at any time. It is optimal to initiate treatment with hyperthermia as soon as the patient begins receiving systemic therapy.
For all patients, the goal is to choose the right therapy or combination of therapies that leads to the best outcome while minimizing side effects. Optimizing your therapeutic regimen leads to the best outcome. Adding hyperthermia can maximize the effectiveness of your therapeutic regimen without putting sensitive surrounding organs at risk. Hyperthermia often has no or minimal side effects and has no known adverse effects on normal tissue.