SOFT TISSUE CANCERS/SARCOMA
At a glance
Soft tissue sarcomas are malignant conditions that arise from rapid cancer cell growth in the body’s soft tissues. Soft tissues are our muscles, fat, tendons, blood and lymph vessels, as well as our nerves. When examining soft tissue under a microscope, each sample differs slightly due to variations in the cellular network and the origins of cancer.
Soft tissue cancer differs in terms of size, some resembling a tiny pea while others may grow to be the size of a nut. Whereas some soft tissues may be a cosmetic concern, others have medical implications—cancer is one of the primary reasons for excision surgery.
There are certain types of inherited disorders that increase the risk of soft tissue cancer; some of these include:
- Retinoblastoma arises from the eye’s delicate lining, the retina.
- Type 1 Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disease that prompts brown patches or tumours to develop on the skin’s surface.
- Tuberous sclerosis is a genetic-related condition that causes tumours to form within the brain, kidneys, lungs, heart, eyes and skin. The condition causes mental incapacity, seizures and skin lesions.
How to prepare for the procedure
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy is beneficial before or after the surgical excision of the soft tissue mass. Dr Maraj will provide guidance regarding this before the procedure. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are at times combined. When using both therapies at the same time, we refer to this as neoadjuvant treatment. Both therapies are effective in reducing the size of the tumour to prepare for its extraction.
What the surgical removal of a soft tissue mass involvess
Soft tissue excision can include multiple expansive layers of tissue which we refer to as wide local excision. This type of procedure involves the removal of the tumour along with a healthy margin of skin. In wide excision, not a lot of tissue is removed but only a fine layer (1-2 cm). At the same time, surgeons remove lymph nodes close by, a procedure we call a lymph node dissection. These samples are then transferred to the pathology laboratory to test for pathogens or malignant cancer.
Following these surgical procedures, Dr Maraj, together with an oncologist, may recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy afterwards. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are used to obliterate cancer cells completely and reduce the risk of recurrence.
What to expect post-procedure
The human body fills empty spaces with natural fluid, causing swelling and discolouration of the skin. Dr Maraj will leave a surgical drain in the wound to reduce the amount of fluid that may accumulate. This fluid may be drained with a needle and syringe. Slight pain and nausea are to be expected, but once the doctor prescribes medication, the feeling should subside. Dr Maraj will advise on exercise at your post-theatre follow-up visit based on your recovery.
This is merely a basic guide; Dr Maraj will be able to provide you with further information should you need it.
Risks & complications
Guidelines and protocols are followed to prevent complications. While this is a common and generally safe procedure, complications may still occur. In addition, complications include bleeding, infection and those related to the anaesthetic used. Recurrence or metastatic disease may occur as part of disease progression.
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