July observed as Sarcoma Cancer Awareness month
The Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) recently announced that July is Sarcoma Cancer Awareness Month. Sarcoma which is a form of cancer affects different types of tissues in the human body.
Soft tissue sarcomas affects tissues connecting, supporting or surrounding any of the body’s systems, while bone sarcoma is a type of bone cancer.
According to the Namibia National Cancer Registry, sarcoma remains the most prevalent cancer subtype, with it also being the third highest ranking cancer amongst Namibian women and ranking second highest amongst Namibian men primary due to the country’s high HIV infection rate.
Rolf Hansen, Chief Executive Officer of CAN, said that symptoms of sarcoma include tumours, pain and specific symptoms may reflect the particular type of sarcoma.
“There are more than 50 types of sarcomas, one of these being Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a subtype sarcoma that Namibia is struggling with a lot due to our high HIV prevalence rate and it mainly affects the skins but can occur in other and it results from human herpesvirus 8,” added Hansen.
He said that it is still not fully know what primarily causes sarcoma as they tend to occur sporadically, with little or no family history, but research has identified risk factors that include high doses of radiation, genetic conditions, exposure to chemicals such as vinyl chloride, dioxins and phenoxyacetic herbicides may increase the risk.
“Surgery is the most common treatment for sarcoma as it aims to remove the tumour and some of the normal surrounding tissue, a patient may have radiation therapy before or after surgery to destroy cancer cells, but the choice and intensity of treatment depends on the stage and grade of cancer, the size of the tumour and the extent of any spread,” he explained.
Hansen highlighted that many people live for longer than 5 years after diagnosis and thanks to new medical discoveries these percentages continue to improve.
“Individual factors, such as age and overall health, will impact the chance of survival for each person,” he concluded.