Soft-Tissue Sarcoma: Why Expert Care is Critical

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Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in muscle, fat, bone, blood vessels or deep layers of the skin. While some sarcomas can be mild, others can be awfully dangerous. This Patient Power program begins with Patricia Beck, a five-year sarcoma survivor and Rob, her husband of 26 years, sharing the story of their journey through treatment and recovery. Dr. James Hayden also joins this revealing discussion, sharing his clinical perspective, while emphasizing the importance of an accurate diagnosis and steps for achieving these results. Dr. Hayden is an orthopedic oncologist and assistant professor of orthopedics at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU).

As fifth generation farmers, Patricia and Rob have spent long hours in their sunflower and alfalfa fields. Needless to say, the Beck’s know a thing or two about being in shape on a farm. In 2003 Patricia, a mother of two, noticed soreness in the back of her thigh. At first, Patricia thought it was a pulled muscle from work on the family farm. However, an MRI and, later a biopsy, showed it to be spindle cell sarcoma, a rare cancer. She was treated over many months at OHSU and spent more than 40 days in the hospital. Two years later, Patricia had a recurrence and received additional radiation. Watch more of Patricia’s emotional story here and learn more about her interesting family history connection to sarcomas.

Listen to this program to learn critical information such as how to get an accurate diagnosis and the best way to organize a multidisciplinary sarcoma team. Summed up in Dr. Hayden’s own words, sarcoma patients have more reasons to be excited about treatment options: “I’m very hopeful about how we’re doing with soft-tissue sarcomas. I think we use to just do surgery on them, and in the last ten years or so we’ve had very good data presented that shows that radiation therapy makes a significant improvement in our overall therapy, and we’re now starting to work in the chemotherapy realm, and the biggest hope is that we can find targeted therapies for specific sarcomas that makes the chemotherapy less toxic and more effective.”

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Produced in association with Oregon Health & Science University



Andrew Schorr:

Hello and thank you for joining us once again on our Ask the Experts program. I’m Andrew Schorr from Patient Power, and thanks to OHSU, Oregon Health and Science University, in helping us do these programs every two weeks for you. We always connect you with at least one leading OHSU expert and inspiring patients and family members who have been helped by great medical care at OHSU. Our goal is to help people around Oregon, Washington, and really world wide on these Internet broadcasts learn the latest in some of the most serious health conditions.

Now I’m a leukemia survivor. Leukemia is not common, but it affects many thousands of people, but there are other cancers; some that are very common like lung cancer, all too common, and others that are rare. We’re going to talk about a rare one today, and really there are many subtypes, and that will be an important part of our discussion tonight.

We’re going to talk about sarcoma. Now sarcoma can be cancer in the bone, but it can also be in the soft tissues, the muscles and the connective tissue of the body. It can appear almost at any age and all over the body, and it’s often not recognized. Now some can be not too serious and some can be very serious. So first of all how do you get an accurate diagnosis and know what you’re dealing with, and then how do you find a team? It really does, as you will hear, take a multidisciplinary team; not just a surgeon, not just an oncologist, not just a radiation oncologist; but ideally a team. They all put their heads together; pathologists, radiologist, and many support people; so that you get expert care as you fight this cancer hopefully to cure it or at least knock it back and have many years of high quality of life.

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