Sarcoma cancer – Frequently Asked Questions
Living with Cancer, an NGO, launched the first patient led cancer registry in SA and offers support to anyone diagnosed with cancer. It was started by Belinda Wagner, an angiosarcoma survivor. She shares the most frequently asked questions when people are diagnosed with sarcoma cancer.
What is sarcoma cancer?
A rare cancer that grows in connective tissue and cells that connect or support other tissues in our bodies. The cancerous tumours are normally found in bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, nerves, fat or blood vessels throughout the body. There are more than 80 types of sarcomas that are grouped into soft tissue and bone sarcomas.
How are sarcomas diagnosed?
Typically you need to go for a biopsy. The doctor will take out a small piece of the tumour. The tissue is viewed and the lab is able to provide details as to the type of sarcoma you may have. It often takes a little longer because sarcomas are rare and they need to be 100% sure what type as it impacts the treatment protocol. It’s always advisable to ask your oncologist to provide you with detail of the process and for them to explain your cancer diagnosis.
What is the best form of treatment for sarcomas? Is it better to have the sarcoma removed or first undergo chemotherapy?
Your oncologist will provide you with the best treatment protocol for your type of sarcoma. However, it appears that most of the time they recommend surgery to remove the tumour, followed by a combination of chemotherapy and/or radiation. Each sarcoma is different and it really depends on the type and where it is in the body.
Are alternative therapies, or products like cannabis recommended?
It appears that most people that we engage with look at cancer treatment from a holistic view. They consider diet, lifestyle and following doctor’s recommendation on the therapy. However, there are lots of patients that have used cannabis to help with symptoms, such as pain, nausea and insomnia. It is always best to discuss this with your treating doctor and be sure that it won’t interfere with any active treatment that you are undergoing. Honesty is the best type of communication between you and your doctor.
A good exercise routine, even if it is just a walk in the garden, reflexology, yoga or simple stretching is important to help build the immune system. Healthy eating is also important as it aids the immune system with the use of appropriate vitamins that your doctor approves.
Whenever I go for a scan, I always feel so anxious. Is this normal?
Scanxiety is real and this is one of the most challenging emotions that anyone that has been diagnosed with cancer has to live with for the rest of their lives. As a cancer patient, survivor, or, as we call it in our support group, warrior, whenever you go for a scan it’s traumatic and its reminds you of the day you were diagnosed.
We all experience and deal with it differently. Some people want support during this time and others prefer to keep it to themselves. Regardless of your preference you need to always do what works for you. Where possible allow people to support you as it does help with the process. A positive frame of mind is always imperative during any stage of your cancer journey.
This article is sponsored by Accord Healthcare in the interest of education, awareness and support. The content and opinions expressed are entirely the support group’s own work and not influenced by Accord in any way.