There are no effective screening tools or ways to prevent sarcoma. While
the majority of suspicious masses discovered are benign, we recommend
that any questionable mass be evaluated by your primary care physician.
Any unusual bone lesion should be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon.
At initial presentation, sarcoma may be asymptomatic; symptoms may not
present until the cancer has progressed. To provide a diagnosis of sarcoma,
a specialist will perform a physical examination and imaging studies,
such as an MRI, CT or a bone scan (if it involves the bone) to assess
if the disease has spread.
A tissue diagnosis is necessary in order to determine the type or origin
of tumor (for example, a tumor of muscle, bone, nerves or fat), the subtype
of tumor, its aggressiveness or "grade" (for example, high grade
versus intermediate or low grade) and additional tumor characteristics
that assist in predicting behavior and prognosis. A precise subtype diagnosis
can change the treatment approach.
Tumor tissue is first examined under the microscope by a pathologist with
expertise in sarcomas. After microscopic examination, additional special
studies are performed including immunophenotyping (identification of the
types of proteins a tumor expresses by means of antibody reactions), molecular
studies (analysis of small segments of DNA or RNA using in situ hybridization
or polymerase chain reaction) and chromosome analysis. When clinically
indicated, high throughput genomic sequencing can used for the purpose
of both sarcoma categorization as well as potential therapeutic considerations.
Once the pathologist completely analyzes the tumor, members of the multidisciplinary
team can then discuss optimal treatment for the patient.
Most cases of sarcoma are sporadic (not hereditary); however, sarcoma can
be associated with hereditary cancer susceptibility genes in some families.
If, in addition to sarcoma, there is a personal or family history of pre-menopausal
breast cancer, brain cancer, or of the childhood tumors adrenal cortical
carcinoma or choroid plexus carcinoma, then genetic counseling is indicated
and genetic testing is available. Hoag offers its
Hereditary Cancer Program to the community - a comprehensive genetic counseling and testing program,
led by certified genetic counselors and physician leadership. Contact
us to see if this may be the right option for you or your family.
For more information, or to contact the Hoag Sarcoma Program Clinic, please