Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are cancerous regions that can begin in any part of the body. Found in both children and adults, about 60 percent of sarcomas begin in an arm or leg, 30 percent in the abdomen and 10 in the head or neck. Rare in adults – accounting for 1 percent of all adult cancers – sarcoma is most often found in children, representing about 15 percent of all pediatric cancers.
Symptoms of sarcoma often do not appear in the early stages of the cancer. Typical symptoms include:
- Pain if a tumor presses on nerves or muscles
- A noticeable lump or swelling
- A blockage in the stomach or intestines or gastrointestinal bleeding (if tumor is in abdomen/digestive tract)
When diagnosing a sarcoma, a physician will most likely complete a physical exam and various imaging tests, including x-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). A physician may also choose to complete a biopsy, removing an area of affected tissue to examine for cancer.
When delivering proton treatment, physicians are able to aggressively treat tumors with high doses of protons while protecting surrounding tissue. Because the protons enter the body at the targeted spot, then stop, removing the exit dose, the sensitive tissue that usually surrounds the sarcoma will receive less secondhand radiation.