Cancer refers to the excessive of growth of cells in the body that affects other organs in the body. They are grouped into categories based on their location and the organ or body parts they affect. Carcinomas are the most common type of cancer that mainly occurs in the epithelial cells of the body like colon, breast, lung or prostate. Whereas sarcomas are cancers that occur in the connective tissue such as bones, nerves and muscles. The two types of sarcomas are bone and soft tissue sarcomas. Soft tissue sarcomas occur in soft tissues like fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissue, blood vessels and deep skin tissues. They can be found in any part of the body but most of them develop in arms and legs. Therefore, they constitute less than 1 per cent of adult cancer and nearly 21 per cent of children’s cancer.
Angiosarcomas are malignant cancer of the vascular endothelial cell. Endothelial cells make up the lining of vessels. It mostly occurs in the skin, breast, liver, spleen and deep tissue. The most common type of angiosarcoma occurs in the skin called cutaneous angiosarcomas found in the face and scalp. Subcutaneous angiosarcomas, on the other hand, occur underneath the surface of the skin. Deep tissue angiosarcomas account for nearly 25 per cent of while breast tissue angiosarcomas account for 8 per cent of the disease.
The exact cause of angiosarcoma is not known. However, some conditions may lead to angiosrcoma like lymphedema which is swelling of an area due to collection of fluid that occur when the lymphatic system is blocked or damaged. Lymphedema can also occur when the lymph nodes are removed during surgery that is done during cancer treatment. Angiosarcoma can also occur from exposure to radiation therapy and certain carcinogens like vinyl chloride, arsenic and thorium dioxide.
Angiosarcomas are difficult to diagnose as it may occur as a skin rash or bruise which may look purplish or blue. However, a proper diagnostic will include CT scans, MRI and PET scans that help in determining the location and size of the tumour and also whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Your doctor might also do a biopsy where a piece of the tumour is sent to a pathologist to know the whether it is a low-grade or aggressive tumour.
A treatment for angiosarcoma will depend on the location and severity of the tumour. However, surgery is the main form of treatment for angiosarcoma. The goal of surgery is to remove all possible cancerous tumour leaving as much healthy tissue as possible.Before doing a surgical procedure, a biopsy test is done to assess the tumour. In some cases the tumour may be too large and have spread to other organs or body parts, for which chemotherapy or radiation therapy is also used. Radiation therapy uses high energy beam such as X-rays to kill cancer cells. In chemotherapy a combination of drugs are used to kill the cancer cells. In many cases of angiosarcomas, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used before or after surgical procedure.
Symptoms of angiosarcoma can vary widely depending on the location and severity of the sarcoma. The most common type of angiosarcoma is cutaneous angiosarcoma that occurs on the skin like face or scalp. Therefore, it can appear as a skin infection, a bruise or a lesion that does not heal. It might be violet in colour or it can be felt as a soft lump that can be seen or felt. You should go for diagnostic test if you have these symptoms or had cancer before also for which you received radiation therapy.
People suffering from other type of disease or medical conditions are not eligible for cancer treatment.
As cancer treatments involve the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, patients undergoing the treatment will experience numerous side effects. Common side effects of chemotherapy includes fatigue, hair loss, easy bruising and bleeding, infection, anemia, nausea and vomiting, appetite changes, constipation and loss of appetite. On the other hand, radiation therapy may also have some side effects like skin problems such as skin rashes, dryness, itching, peeling and blistering, fatigue, problems in head and neck region like stiffness of jaw, dry mouth, tooth decay and more. You may also experience shortness of breath, diarrhea, symptoms of menopause, sexual problems in men and nausea and vomiting.
Cancer treatment includes palliative care which is very important for the overall healing of the patient and their family. Palliative care will entail providing emotional, mental and physical support to the patient and their family to help them lead a better quality of life. Patients may feel weak and fatigued after his treatments are over. They will be mentally and physical exhausted, so it’s very important to form a support chain and group that he or she can turn to. Try to have a healthy and well-balanced diet with a lot of protein and legumes to replace the lost nutrient from the body. Also try light weight exercising to energize your body and increase your metabolism.
However, don’t forget to follow up with the doctors or oncologists to get an honest predictions on the complete removal of cancer cells and to prevent their reoccurrence in the future.
Recovey from angiosarcoma treatment is usually long taking 6 months to a year to fully livea normal life.
The cost of cancer treatment is high in India. It usaully starts at Rs.50,000 and can go up to Rs.10,00,000.
The results of the treatment depends on the size and sevirity of the tumour in the body. If it is a low-grade tumour, then results are pretty good but if it is an aggresive and fast-spreading tumour then results are not great. Whatever be the type of tumour, there is an increased chance of reoccurence of angiosarcoma in most patients.
Alternative treatment of angiosarcoma includes immunotherapy, antion giogenic and multi-modality treatment. These are new age treatments which are being used by doctors and oncologists.