The month of September holds a special significance as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a time to shine a light on the relentless courage of young warriors and the dedication of professionals who stand beside them. Among the many challenges faced by these brave souls, sarcomas loom as a rare and lesser-known threat. As a surgeon specializing in the treatment of sarcomas, I am compelled to emphasize the critical importance of early diagnosis and the right treatment for these young patients. By raising awareness about sarcomas and the significance of timely intervention, we can help pave the way for brighter futures for these children.
Sarcomas, although less common than other childhood cancers, are a group of malignant tumours that can develop in various parts of the body, including bones, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. What makes sarcomas particularly sinister is their deceptive nature; they often masquerade as benign conditions, leading to delayed diagnosis. This underscores the need for increased awareness among parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers about the signs and symptoms of sarcomas. Persistent pain, swelling, or a noticeable lump in a child’s body should never be dismissed lightly. Early detection is the linchpin in the fight against sarcomas, as it significantly improves the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival.
When it comes to treating sarcomas, one size certainly does not fit all. These tumours encompass a wide array of subtypes, each with its unique characteristics and requirements for treatment. Tailoring the approach to the specific type of sarcoma is essential. Moreover, collaboration among a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including paediatric oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, and pathologists, is vital to ensuring the right course of action. This team effort ensures that the child receives a comprehensive evaluation, accurate diagnosis, and an individualized treatment plan. We are proud that at Sparsh Hospital, we have an excellent such team, amongst whom every patient’s details are thoroughly discussed to provide the best possible care, irrespective of the stage of the disease or the background of the patient or family.
Surgery often plays a pivotal role in the treatment of sarcomas. For localized sarcomas, surgery aims to remove the tumour while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. However, for some patients, especially those with advanced or metastatic disease, a combination of treatments may be necessary. This can include chemotherapy to shrink the tumour before surgery or radiation therapy to target any remaining cancer cells. Additionally, in certain cases, targeted therapies and immunotherapies are showing promise as new avenues of treatment. With improved surgical technology and techniques in the recent past like robotic surgery, 3D printing, navigation assisted surgery, patient specific implants, etc, more and more limb salvage surgeries are being performed with significantly improved functional outcomes.
Another facet of sarcoma care that cannot be understated is the importance of psychological and emotional support for both the child and their family. The journey of paediatric cancer treatment is an arduous one, filled with physical and emotional challenges. Ensuring that these young patients receive not only the best medical care but also the necessary psychosocial support is paramount.
In the realm of childhood cancers, it’s imperative that we raise awareness about sarcomas and the unique challenges they pose. The rarity of these tumours should not equate to a lack of attention. Rather, it should drive us to ensure that every child facing a sarcoma diagnosis receives the earliest possible detection and the most appropriate treatment. National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity for all of us to come together, support the fighters, admire the survivors, honour the taken, and never, ever give up hope. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of these young warriors and their families, offering them the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
“Through lumps and bumps, we pave a way,
With Faith, Hope and Love, come what may”.