Singer Cat Janice has passed away at the age of 31 on Wednesday due to rare sarcoma cancer that develops in the bones and soft tissues. The singer went viral on TikTok for dedicating her last song to her son. In 2022, Janice revealed she had cancer and after battling the deadly disease, she was declared cancer-free. However, the cancer returned to her lungs, and she was hospitalised last month. (Also read: Is sarcoma deadlier than other types of cancer? Know how it is different from others)

Sarcoma, the cancer originating in the connective tissue of the body like muscles, bones, cartilage and tendon, is difficult to diagnose and treat,(Instagram/Cat Janice)
Sarcoma, the cancer originating in the connective tissue of the body like muscles, bones, cartilage and tendon, is difficult to diagnose and treat,(Instagram/Cat Janice)

There are more than 200 types of cancer depending on their point of origin in the body. Sarcoma, the cancer originating in the connective tissue of the body like muscles, bones, cartilage and tendon, is difficult to diagnose and treat, especially because the early signs and symptoms are tricky to diagnose. However, pain or swelling in a specific area that doesn’t go away, a lump or mass or difficulty in moving should ring an alarm bell. Early diagnosis and timely treatment can improve chances of survival.

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“In the realm of oncology, some conditions stand out for their rarity and complexity. Sarcoma cancer, an exceptionally uncommon form of the disease, demands attention and understanding due to its unique characteristics, says Dr Pooja Babbar, Consultant in Medical Oncology at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, who sheds light on the ailment and also provides insights into its symptoms, causes, and treatment methods.

What is sarcoma cancer?

“Sarcomas are tumours that originate in the connective tissues of the body, such as muscles, bones, tendons, and cartilage. Unlike more prevalent cancers, sarcomas represent a small fraction of cancer diagnoses, making them particularly challenging to identify and treat, says Dr Babbar, adding that recognising the early signs and symptoms of sarcoma is of great importance and timely intervention is critical in managing this rare malignancy.

Symptoms of sarcoma cancer

Sarcoma cancer signs become mostly noticeable when a tumour grows to a large size. By this time the cancer would have already started destroying bone tissue. This would produce symptoms such as constant pain that doesn’t go away, fractures or enlarging bump near the bone.

“Common symptoms of sarcoma include persistent pain or swelling in the affected area, a noticeable lump or mass, and restricted mobility. These signs may be subtle initially, leading to delays in diagnosis,” says Dr Babbar. People must not ignore these symptoms and seek consultancy from a healthcare expert immediately.

Causes of sarcoma

“Understanding the causes of sarcoma is pivotal in its prevention and management. While the exact etiology remains elusive, certain genetic factors and inherited syndromes are known to elevate the risk. Additionally, exposure to radiation and certain environmental toxins may contribute to the development of sarcomas,” says Dr Babbar who stresses the significance of a comprehensive medical history assessment to identify potential risk factors in patients.

“A sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that usually grows in the bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, nerves, fat, and blood vessels of your arms and legs, deep skin tissues and fibrous tissues but they can develop in other areas of your body too. The exact cause of sarcoma cancer is unclear but several factors may put you at the risk of developing a Sarcoma. People having exposure to radiotherapy for cancer treatment earlier, family history of inherited syndromes (neurofibromatosis, Gardner syndrome, Werner syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, retinoblastoma), exposure to chemicals (such as arsenic, vinyl chloride, herbicides) and chronic lymphedema or swelling, in the arms or legs are at greater risk of developing sarcoma cancer,” says Dr Neeraj Teotia, Consultant-Pediatric Hemato- Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Marengo Asia Hospitals Faridabad.

Types of sarcomas

There are broadly two types of sarcomas – soft tissue sarcoma and bone sarcoma. Sarcoma cases constitute about 15% of all cancers in children, and only about 1% of adult cancer cases.

“Soft tissue Sarcomas develop in the soft tissues of the body and are most commonly detected in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen. Soft tissue tumours may occur in children and adults. Bone sarcomas are bone tumours that grow in bone (including upper arm, shoulder, ribs and legs). These cancers are most commonly found in children. Osteosarcoma is the most common form of primary bone cancer,” says Dr Teotia.

Treatment of sarcoma cancer

“When it comes to treating sarcoma, multidisciplinary approach must be followed including surgical intervention, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Surgery is often the primary treatment, aiming to remove the tumour while preserving surrounding healthy tissues. In cases where surgery alone may not be sufficient, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy becomes instrumental in eradicating residual cancer cells,” says Dr Pooja Babbar.

“To treat sarcoma cancer, a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery is followed. Chemotherapy is the most important treatment for sarcomas as it plays a vital role in preventing and controlling the spread of the cancer into the lungs, vital organs and other parts of the body. After initial chemotherapy, Surgery can be considered as an effective option to shrink sarcoma tumours. With the advent of new adjuvant chemotherapy, improved technique in surgery and the availability of internal prostheses, amputation is now avoided in approximately 95% of sarcoma cases. Radiation is used to sterilize the tumour cells and make them unable to divide and continue to grow,” says Dr Teotia.


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