If you have been diagnosed with angiosarcoma, you likely have plenty of questions about the disease. While we recommend that you discuss all aspects of your diagnosis with your doctor, consider this guide a quick introduction to the disease to help you ask more informed questions.
What Is Angiosarcoma?
According to the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, angiosarcoma is a malignant tumor, or cancer, of the inner lining of blood vessels. This sarcoma can occur in any part of the body, but it most commonly occurs in the following areas:
- Breast (accounts for around eight percent of angiosarcomas)
- Deep tissue (accounts for approximately one quarter of angiosarcoma cases)
The overwhelmingly majority of cases of angiosarcoma are cutaneous angiosarcoma, or angiosarcoma of the skin. This sarcoma is most often found on the scalp and face.
Angiosarcoma is particularly rare in children, but tends to affect men and women equally.
What Causes Angiosarcoma and What Are Its Symptoms?
It is generally not known what causes most angiosarcomas.
To date, the most widely known cause of angiosarcoma is the swelling of the body due to the buildup of fluids (this is also known as lymphedema).
People who have been exposed to radiation treatment can be vulnerable to angiosarcomas, and so too can people who have been around various carcinogens, such as vinyl chloride, arsenic and thorium dioxide.
There are various ways to identify angiosarcoma, including:
- A bruise, lesion or appearance of skin infection that does not heal
- A violet colored rash that appears in area that was previously exposed to radiation (including radiation therapy)
- A soft lump
Sometimes angiosarcoma presents as deep tumors that unfortunately tend to go undetected, until they begin to affect other tissues and organs.
Angiosarcoma is usually diagnosed via X-ray, CT scan or MRI.
What Are My Options for Angiosarcoma Treatment?
Like many other types of sarcoma, surgery with a wide surgical margin to prevent local recurrence is the recommended form of treatment for angiosarcoma. In addition, chemotherapy and/or radiation may be recommendation before or after surgery. Naturally, discussion of radiation treatment will be predicated on whether the angiosarcoma was caused by radiation exposure.
Common types of chemotherapy medication dispensed for angiosarcoma are:
- Doxorubicin (for most patients)
- Ifosfamide (MAI)
- Liposomal Doxorubicin
Prognosis for angiosarcoma patients is poor because it is typically not diagnosed until after the disease has spread throughout the body. The late diagnosis is the primary reason that the prognosis is poor.
Patients who have early-discovered, small tumors that are removed with large surgical margins have much better results.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you believe that your doctor misdiagnosed or failed to detect signs of angiosarcoma, you might have a medical malpractice claim against him. You might also have a medical malpractice claim against your doctor if you believe he recommended an inadequate course of treatment or botched treatments for your angiosarcoma.
In addition, you could have a medical malpractice and/or tort claim related to any of the chemotherapy medications listed above, as well as other chemotherapy medications.
If your doctor prescribed you a medication that resulted in adverse affects or severe unadvertised side effects, you may very well have a cause of action.
It is important that you speak up not only in order to get the just compensation that you deserve, but also to put doctors and drug manufacturers on alert, so that other angiosarcoma patients do not suffer similar misfortunes.