Sarcoma is a malignant tumor that develops in connective tissue or muscle tissue. Connective tissue can be bone tissue, fatty tissue, cartilage, etc. Sarcomas are customarily categorized according to the tissue in which the tumor develops:
Osteosarcoma – a tumor in bones that appears mainly in children, often in the area of the knee or pelvis. The tumor manifests itself by sharp pain in the bones, and sometimes by bones breaking after a light trauma. Treatment is mainly surgical (excision of the tumor), followed by adjuvant chemotherapy.
Liposarcoma – a tumor that develops in fatty tissue and manifests itself as a lump in the tissue, and is diagnosed by performing a biopsy. This tumor has a number of histological types, with the prognosis depending upon the type of tumor.
Chondrosarcoma – a very rare tumor that develops in cartilage. Treatment is based on surgical excision.
Leiomyosarcoma – a tumor that develops in smooth muscle tissue. This tumor can appear in the muscular section of the uterine wall, in the stomach or in other parts of the body where there is smooth muscle tissue. Treatment is based on surgery to excise the tumor and a good margin of surrounding tissue, in order to avoid leaving malignant cells in the body. This type of tumor is very resistant to chemotherapy and to radiation.
Treatment of advanced-stage, metastasized sarcoma is currently based on chemotherapy. However today, biological drugs have begun being used to fight some sarcoma. Since recently, testimonies have begun to be received that these tumors may respond to biological therapies or immunotherapy, following is an explanation of the various treatment options:
Biological therapy: biological drugs work on various receptors in cancerous tissue with the aim of preventing the cancer from proliferating or of affecting genomic mutations that activate cell-division mechanisms. In this way, these targeted drugs succeed in destroying the tumor.
Immunotherapy: drugs that use the immune system to fight the tumor, when the tumor is paralyzing the immune system. One of the known mechanisms uses the immune system in a focused way with drugs that inhibit PD1.
Personalized therapy: in instances when tumors are not responding to the customary chemotherapy, advanced tests may be used in order to try to pinpoint targets for various treatments. The most suitable therapy may then be decided according to the biological characteristics of the tumor tissue, whether chemotherapy, biological therapy, immunotherapy or even hormone therapy, which had not previously been considered effective.