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Sarcoma

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 10,000 people (less than 1 percent of cancer cases) were diagnosed with sarcoma in 2009. In Sarcoma the cancerous cells form in the soft tissues of the body, which include: Muscles, tendons, fat cells, blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves and tissues around joints. Therefore, sarcoma can be found anywhere in the body. Unlike the more common carcinomas that arise from carcinogenic exposure (i.e. diet, smoke, UV light), the deep tissues develop malignancies that arise spontaneously.

Type of Soft Tissue Sarcomas

  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma is found in the tendons and ligaments, usually in the arms, legs or trunk.
  • Liposarcoma is located in the fatty tissue, typically in the arms, legs or body cavities.
  • Leiomyosarcoma originates in the involuntary muscle (smooth muscle), such as that found in the uterus and digestive tract.

Common Treatments for Sarcoma

In the past, limb amputation was a common way to treat sarcomas in the extremities. Today, according to the ACS, less than 5 percent of surgeries to treat the disease result in amputations, with the majority of patients undergoing surgery to remove the tumor only with a follow-up regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.

Depending on the stage of the sarcoma, patients may use chemotherapy as a first line treatment or in addition to surgical removal. The most common chemotherapeutic treatments for the disease are: Ifosfamide and doxorubicin; cisplatin; dacarbazine; docetaxel; gemcitibine; methotrexate; oxaliplatin; paclitaxel; vincristine; and vinorelbine.

Typically, your oncologist will base your treatment on a standard protocol. With so many options, it would be advantageous to have your tumor tested to get your therapy right the first time with a Rational Therapeutics’ Ex-Vivo Analysis of Programmed Cell Death (EVA-PCD) platform.

One of the most interesting aspects of sarcoma biology is the recognition of highly specific mutations. Some of these mutations may render sarcomas sensitive to specific forms of therapy. One such therapy is the use of Imatinib in the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors, also known as GIST. Additional targets for these diseases are the signaling pathways targeted by some of the newest classes of drugs. Many of these agents are under investigation at Rational Therapeutics and can often be tested for activity when tumor tissues are submitted. Learn more about the TARxGET analysis at Rational Therapeutics.

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