All benign and malignant tumors that originate in the soft tissues of the human body are summarized under the generic term “soft tissue tumors”. The soft tissue also includes connective tissue – a malignant tumor that has developed here is known as a fibrosarcoma. Fibrosarcomas occur only very rarely and – provided they are detected early – can be treated with a good prognosis.
What is a fibrosarcoma?
According to FUN-WIKI.COM, a fibrosarcoma is a malignant growth that originates in the connective tissue. A fibrosarcoma usually forms on the legs, less often on the arms and on the back. Cancer cells reach other organs via the bloodstream and form metastases there.
Fibrosarcomas are very rare in adults – around 2% of all cancers are soft tissue tumors. The proportion is significantly higher for children and is around 10%.
The causes that lead to fibrosarcoma are not clearly known. However, some connections could be shown which influence the development of soft tissue tumors.
There is an increase in adults who have come into contact with asbestos, polyvinyl chloride and / or dioxin. In addition, a previous cancer with accompanying radiation therapy can be the cause of the development of a fibrosarcoma.
In general, however, the following also applies here: An unhealthy lifestyle – for example smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor, high-fat diet and lack of exercise promote the development of fibrosarcoma.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
Since fibrosarcoma is a tumor, it can, in the worst case, lead to the death of the person affected. Usually this case only occurs if the fibrosarcoma is not treated. The tumor can spread to other regions of the body, causing metastasis.
Those affected suffer from lumps under the skin. These lumps are usually not painful and can take on a brownish or reddish color. It can also lead to the formation of ulcers. The lymph nodes of the patient are also swollen from the fibrosarcoma and the person concerned is very tired and exhausted.
Weight loss will continue to occur if the tumor continues to spread and is not treated. Those affected appear pale and no longer take an active part in everyday life. In many cases, the tumors also spread to the lungs, so that patients also have to rely on various examinations in this region of the body.
In addition to the physical complaints, a fibrosarcoma is also associated with depression or other psychological disorders that can occur not only in the patient but also in the relatives.
Diagnosis & course
Like a benign soft tissue tumor, a fibrosarcoma does not initially cause any symptoms. The person affected will only notice the fibrosarcoma if the location and size of the tumor are particularly striking.
As a rule, however, the person concerned only perceives a painless swelling that does not cause any discomfort. The only sign that the swelling could be a soft tissue tumor is that the swelling does not go away and cannot be moved under the skin. In a later phase of the disease, the fibrosarcoma spreads.
If the tumor presses on nerves and / or the periosteum, the first symptoms appear. Pressure on the lymph nodes and blood vessels also causes the swelling to increase. Other side effects of fibrosarcoma can be severe weight loss, unnatural paleness and fatigue. If the symptoms described occur, a doctor should be consulted.
The doctor can derive the first signs of a malignant soft tissue tumor from the medical history. If swelling has occurred without a simultaneous injury and if it enlarges quickly, further examinations are necessary to finally clarify the initial suspicion. First, the doctor will examine the tumors using ultrasound. Malignant tumors are usually very well supplied with blood and can therefore be differentiated from benign tumors. Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can also provide information about whether and how far the tumor has already spread.
Fibrosarcomas tend to metastasize in the lungs. An X-ray examination of the lungs will be done to find out whether this has already happened. The doctor will also do a biopsy to further determine the type of tumor. To do this, he removes tissue from the tumor with a needle and gives it to a pathologist for clarification.
Since a fibrosarcoma is a tumor, different complications can arise. If this is discovered early or if it is benign, there are usually no particular symptoms and the cancer can be removed. If the diagnosis is made too late, however, the patient can, in the worst case, die of cancer.
Most often, fibrosarcoma manifests itself as lumps on the skin. These do not cause pain and are red or brown in color. The tumor disease leads to fatigue and severe weight loss. The patient often feels unable to perform any physical activity and is very pale. The affected areas may also have swelling and ulcers.
The treatment itself is carried out by removing the fibrosarcomas from the body with the help of a surgical procedure. If this happens early enough, no further complications will arise. As a rule, chemotherapy is carried out after the operation. However, if the fibrosarcoma has spread further in the body, it is not possible to remove the tumors. As a rule, the patient will die prematurely.
When should you go to the doctor?
Swellings or changes in the tissue structure must always be clarified by a doctor. If knots, dents or growths form, this is considered unusual. A visit to the doctor is advisable as soon as possible. If the changes in the complexion increase in size, extent and intensity, a doctor must be consulted. If new growths develop in other areas of the body, it is necessary that these are discussed with a doctor. Consult a doctor in the event of pain, general malaise, malaise or weakness.
If the person concerned has a vague idea that something might be wrong with him, a doctor should also be consulted. If there are functional restrictions, a reduced performance limit or disturbances in concentration, a doctor’s visit is necessary. If you have a fever, anxiety, sleep disorders or a feeling of tightness inside your body, you should consult a doctor.
Incomprehensible weight gain or loss, emotional changes or behavioral problems should be discussed with a doctor as soon as they persist for several weeks. Discoloration or unusual paleness of the skin should be presented to a doctor. Before using cosmetics to alleviate the symptoms, skin abnormalities should be examined by a doctor. If the person concerned suffers from exhaustion, apathy or a reduction in general well-being for a long period of time, a doctor’s visit is necessary.
Treatment & Therapy
If a fibrosarcoma is detected early and if further therapy succeeds in removing the cancer completely from the body, the prognosis is good. The removal is attempted by means of an operation followed by radiation.
This is usually followed by chemotherapy, which kills any tumor cells that may still be present. If a tumor cannot initially be operated on due to its size, attempts are made to shrink the tumor with radiation or chemotherapy. If this succeeds, a tumor is usually operable afterwards. If a fibrosarcoma has already spread, curative therapy is usually not possible.
Outlook & forecast
Without medical care, patients with fibrosarcoma experience steady deterioration in their health. The performance decreases and the general condition changes for the negative. The symptoms gradually increase until the patient dies in the terminal stage. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the better the prognosis if medical treatment is used.
In the early stages of the disease, fibrosarcoma is benign. Since there are often no symptoms in this phase, a diagnosis is usually an incidental finding. The mutation to a malignant course takes place when the disease progresses. At this stage there are already health impairments. All noticeable tissue changes are removed in a surgical treatment. A subsequent cancer therapy enables the patient to recover.
The further the fibrosarcoma has spread in the connective tissue, the less favorable the prospect of recovery. In these cases, it is not possible for medical professionals to remove all tissue abnormalities without leaving any residue. If metastases have also formed or organs of the patient have already been infected by cancer cells, it is often no longer possible to reverse the progression of the disease despite comprehensive treatment. Treatment at this stage is aimed at life-prolonging measures. At the same time, the focus is on reducing existing pain.
Measures to prevent fibrosarcoma are not yet known. A healthy lifestyle and avoiding contact with asbestos, dioxin, and polyvinyl chloride are helpful in preventing illness. In addition, swelling should be observed and, if there is any initial suspicion, must be examined by a doctor.
It is advisable to take follow-up care seriously. The fibrosarcoma occurs again in many cases, which means that the symptoms do not finally subside. A scheduled inspection is advisable in order to enable rapid intervention. Usually an internal oncologist is the right contact.
If necessary, he works with other specialists. A quarterly examination has proven to be a good rhythm in the first and second year after recovery. Afterwards, aftercare treatments can be limited to first six-monthly and then annual appointments. Depending on the severity of the fibrosarcoma, doctors use imaging techniques in addition to taking a medical history.
Sonography, computed tomography and X-ray allow clear determinations of the course of the disease inside the body. In addition, a blood test is carried out at least once a year. The purpose of follow-up care is to continue chemotherapy at the first signs. The patient must also be active apart from medical supervision.
It is scientifically recognized that a healthy and balanced diet is beneficial for healing. Avoid stress in private and work life. Many patients also benefit from contact with other sick people. There are self-help groups, especially in large cities, where patients can pass on their experiences with fibrosarcoma.
You can do that yourself
There are a number of self-help groups and patient associations for cancer patients who can pass on experience in dealing with the disease.
Joint activities distract from the illness and save the sick person from isolation. On the physical level, a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, plenty of exercise in the fresh air, stress management and a positive attitude can strengthen the immune system and contribute to a better quality of life. The immune status provides information about how efficient your own defenses are and where they need to be built up.
Supporting yourself also means obtaining information, researching which treatment alternatives are available and then working with the attending physician to determine which treatment is the most promising for each individual. In addition, social workers, psychotherapists, relatives and friends can be involved, who can make it easier to deal with the disease. Be it just with a conversation.
In addition, meditations allow a little break from everyday life and can have a positive effect on the basic constitution. Self-hypnosis and the use of affirmations also have the same effect. Both convey more calm and serenity in dealing with the disease.