If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with epitheloid sarcoma, you are probably scared, confused and looking for answers.
You should consider the following a brief introduction in order to have an informed discussion with your doctor.
Also please keep in mind that it is important to have a thorough discussion of your diagnosis and potential treatment options with your doctor, as every case is different and the following is by no means a comprehensive discussion of the disease.
An Overview of Epithelioid Sarcoma
Epithelioid sarcoma is an uncommon soft tissue cancer primarily affecting young adults, specifically those ages 20 to 40. Over half the time it affects places such as the hands and forearms. Epithelioid sarcoma is slow growing and has a high rate of recurrence and metastasis, which makes its prognosis particularly poor.
Diagnosis of Epithelioid Sarcoma
Because epithelioid sarcoma grows very slowly and has few symptoms, and often appears benign, it is particularly difficult to diagnose early. In addition, pathologic findings are often indistinct, which can make the cancer even more difficult to pinpoint.
Most epithelioid sarcoma tumors are firm or hard, substantial masses deep in soft tissue or in the skin. They are sometimes misdiagnosed as healing wounds or even warts.
Diagnosis is most often made via tissue biopsy. As mentioned, biopsy results are often unclear and can appear to be benign, so the recommended method of review is by both a musculoskeletal oncologist and pathologist.
Treatment of Epithelioid Sarcoma
As with many other types of sarcoma, the recommended method for treating epithelioid sarcoma is surgery. In general, the more that the surgeon is able to remove the better, as smaller surgeries see recurrences in almost 80 percent of cases.
Of course, invasive surgery is not always possible, sometimes due to the location of the tumor and other times because it is medically impossible to remove enough of the affected area.
In addition, chemotherapy and/or radiation can also be used, to shrink tumors before surgery and to avoid amputation if possible in cases of recurrence.
Long Term Prognosis
Unfortunately epithelioid sarcoma has a poor prognosis.
However, there is reason to believe that most epithelioid sarcoma patients will survive a number of years beyond their diagnosis. The five year survival rate for patients with this disease is between 50 to 70 percent and the ten year survival rate is between 42 and 55 percent.
Of course, your doctor can give you a better idea of your prognosis, as all cases are different and some are much more severe than others.