QUOTE FOR TUESDAY:

“The American Cancer Society’s estimates for soft tissue sarcomas in the United States for 2024 are:

  • About 13,590 new soft tissue sarcomas will be diagnosed (7,700 in males and 5,890 in females).
  • About 5,200 people (2,760 males and 2,440 females) are expected to die of soft tissue sarcomas.

These statistics include both adults and children.

The most common types of sarcoma in adults are:

  • Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (previously called malignant fibrous histiocytoma)
  • Liposarcoma
  • Leiomyosarcoma”

American Cancer Society (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/about/key-statistics.html)

Part II Sarcoma Awareness Month – Learn the symptoms, how its diagnosed, and the treatment!!

Soft tissue sarcoma symptoms:

Like many forms of cancer, soft tissue sarcoma symptoms may appear at a more advanced stage of the disease, or you might not notice any symptoms at all. Symptoms, if they are present, will also vary depending on the type of sarcoma and its location.

Signs of soft tissue sarcoma include:

A lump or mass is the most common soft tissue sarcoma sign. The lump will form in the area in which the tumor is growing, and it may be accompanied by some pain if it is pressing on a nerve or muscle. Even if the lump isn’t painful, if it continues to grow, or if it is located deep within an extremity or body cavity, consult your doctor.

Uncomfortable swelling is another sign of soft tissue sarcoma, especially when it is located in the arms and legs.

Limited mobility may be a symptom of soft tissue sarcoma. Some tumors can restrict motion, such as those found in the hip, knee, shoulder or hands.

Skin lesions can occur when a sarcoma tumor breaks through the skin.

Other symptoms may be signs of soft tissue sarcoma, because a sarcoma tumor can form almost anywhere in the body and can therefore affect a variety of organs. For example, sarcomas in the abdomen may cause abdominal pain, vomiting or constipation, while sarcomas in the uterus may cause vaginal bleeding and/or abdominal pain. With gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), you may feel full after eating only very small meals, or you may vomit blood or have dark bowel movements.

Diagnosing Sarcoma:

If your doctor thinks you may have a sarcoma, you’ll probably need a full exam and tests, including: A sample of cells from the tumor, called a biopsy. A plain x-ray to imaging tests, such as a CT scan, an ultrasound, an MRI, a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) to help see inside your body. A bone scan, if you might have osteosarcoma.  Also a biopsy-several types of biopsies are used to diagnose sarcomas..

Treatment of Soft Tissue Sarcoma:

Surgery is typically the primary treatment for soft-tissue sarcoma, used to remove tumors. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or targeted therapy may also be recommended, either alone or in combination with surgery, depending on the stage and extent of the disease, along with other factors.

Surgery

The goal of surgery is to locate and completely remove the soft tissue sarcoma tumor. Our pathologists then examine the tumor to determine whether or not additional treatment is necessary, and to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be used in combination with surgery and radiation therapy to treat advanced-stage soft tissue sarcoma. Chemotherapy drugs work to either destroy cancer cells or impede their ability to grow and reproduce.

At our hospitals, we are developing innovative therapies personalized to the care of each soft tissue sarcoma patient. Our medical oncologists work closely with soft tissue sarcoma patients to determine if chemotherapy is an appropriate treatment option. Throughout your soft tissue sarcoma treatment, your care team continually monitors the effect of chemotherapy on the disease, with physical exams, blood tests, CT scans, MRI scans and chest X-rays and imaging.

Radiation therapy

Depending on the type of soft tissue sarcoma you have and the extent of the disease, your soft tissue sarcoma treatment plan may include radiation therapy. Though surgery is usually the main treatment approach for soft tissue sarcoma, radiation treatments may also be used before (neoadjuvant therapy) or following surgery (adjuvant therapy).

Targeted therapy

Unlike standard chemotherapy drugs, which may affect all cells in the body, targeted therapy drugs are designed to seek out and kill specific cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy cells. Targeted cancer therapies may be used alone, in combination with other targeted therapy treatments or with other soft tissue sarcoma treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Among the drugs used in targeted therapy are so-called kinase inhibitors, which target specific protein receptors that help regulate cell growth.

 

QUOTE FOR MONDAY:

“Sarcomas are rare cancers that develop in the bones and soft tissues, including fat, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, deep skin tissues and fibrous tissues. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 12,000 cases of soft tissue sarcomas and 3,000 cases of bone sarcomas are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Bone sarcomas are more common among children while soft tissue sarcomas are more common in adults.”

John Hopkins Medicine (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/sarcoma#:~:text=Sarcomas%20are%20rare%20cancers%20that,in%20the%20U.S.%20each%20year.)

 

Part I Sarcoma Awareness Month-What sarcoma is and the causes!

What is Sarcoma?

Sarcoma is a rare but deadly form of cancer affecting connective tissues such as fat, muscle, blood vessels, nerve, bone, deep skin and cartilage. There are roughly 15,000 new cases in the United States each year, with a very low median age of 36 (for bone sarcomas). Survival rates are low, even in comparison to other rare cancers. Rhabdomyosarcoma, a relatively common sarcoma, has a five-year survival rate of 65%, even if caught before metastasis. If caught after metastasis, the five-year survival rate lowers to approximately 30%. This is all to say that while sarcomas are rare, they are extremely devastating.

Sarcomas are a diverse and sporadic group of tumors that have minimal hereditary influence. They are generally classified into two major groups; the group of tumor-specific reoccurring genetic mutations via specific and aberrant chromosome translocation, and the group of non-reoccurring mutations which are based on severe genetic and chromosomal instability. Both groups have altered cell growth-factor signaling pathways. As a result, the introduction of drugs which can normalize growth-factor receptors and proteins are of great interest and the primary treatment given. With improvements in these drugs, it is believed that sarcoma can move from a deadly disease to a chronic but non-life-threatening disease.

Unfortunately, the specificity of the first group of sarcomas, where specific chromosomes are improperly translocated, can often permit the sarcoma to prevail after standard treatment. This is obviously problematic but, if overcome, could spark the development of a whole new field of cancer treatment. In other words, if scientists can discover how to isolate and guide specific chromosomal arrangement, they will able to address many of the hard to treat cancers of today.

With genetic engineering it is theoretically possible to prevent cancer before it begins. However, even without moving this far into the future, the improper chromosomal translocation can provide a sort of name-tagging of the cancer cell. With the cancer cells identified, it can guide modalities aimed at destroying diseased tissue while sparing healthy tissue.

Sarcoma is an under-researched cancer whose research can help to elevate cancer treatment, as a whole. Not only would breakthroughs save the lives of countless children, it could also advance medicine, as a whole. By bringing awareness to sarcoma and the potential development its research can spark, this potential can become a reality.

Soft tissue sarcomas may develop in any tissue that connects, supports or surrounds other structures and organs in the body. Some examples of where soft tissues sarcomas can develop are muscles, fascia (the tough membrane that surrounds muscles), tendons, fat, blood vessels, nerves and synovial tissues (connective tissue that makes up the membranes surrounding joints).

Soft tissue sarcomas are rare in adults, accounting for less than 1 percent of all new cases of cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that about 12,750 new cases of soft tissue sarcoma will be diagnosed in 2019 (7,240 cases in males and 5,510 cases in females). Sarcomas can be found almost anywhere in the body.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 50 percent of soft tissue sarcoma cases occur in the extremities (arms and legs), 40 percent occur in the trunk (back and chest), and 10 percent occur in the head and neck.

Causes of Sarcoma:

The American Cancer Society states the following on causes of Sarcoma:

“Scientists don’t know exactly what causes most soft tissue sarcomas , but they have found some risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop these cancers. And research has shown that some of these risk factors affect the genes in cells in the soft tissues.

Researchers have made great progress in understanding how certain changes in DNA (pieces of genes) can cause normal cells to become cancer. DNA carries the instructions for nearly everything our cells do. We usually look like our parents because they are the source of our DNA. But DNA affects more than just the way we look.

The DNA is made of genes. Genes carry the recipes for making proteins, the molecules that control all cell functions. Some genes contain instructions for proteins that control when our cells grow and divide.

  • Certain genes that promote cell division are called oncogenes.
  • Others that slow down cell division or cause cells to die at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes.

Cancers can be caused by DNA mutations (defects) that turn on oncogenes or turn off tumor suppressor genes.

Many family cancer syndromes have been found in which inherited DNA mutations cause a very high risk of developing breast, colon, kidney, eye, or other cancers. Some of these syndromes are also linked to an increased risk of developing soft tissue sarcomas.

DNA mutations in soft tissue sarcoma are common. But they’re usually acquired during life rather than having been inherited before birth. Acquired mutations may result from exposure to radiation or cancer-causing chemicals. In most sarcomas, they occur for no apparent reason.

Researchers still don’t know why most soft tissue sarcomas develop in people who have no apparent risk factors.”

QUOTE FOR THE WEEKEND:

“Cleft lip with or without cleft palate is among the most common of birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States:

  • About 1 in every 1,600 babies is born with cleft lip with cleft palate.
  • About 1 in every 2,800 babies is born with cleft lip without cleft palate.
  • About 1 in every 1,700 babies is born with cleft palate.”

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/cleft-lip-palate)

Part II National Craniofacial and Cleft Palate Awareness and Prevention Month!

birth defect6

Health care providers are encouraged to provide women to plan for pregnancy; avoid harmful substances, like tobacco (2) and alcohol (3); and choose a healthy lifestyle, like eating a healthy diet (4), to increase their chances of a healthy pregnancy. Health care providers also discuss with women any medications they might be taking, both prescription and over-the-counter, to ensure they are taking only what is necessary. If yours is not maybe you need a new one. Prevention is the key to giving highier odds the baby will be healthier when born. Re-enforcement is a great tool and that’s where the medical profession comes into play with pregnant women who is their clientele.

Know that not all birth defects can be prevented. But, we also know that women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. Make a commitment to yourself, to get healthy before and during pregnancy by actively trying to plan ahead, avoid harmful substances, choose a healthy lifestyle, and talk with your healthcare provider.   There are some that can be prevented.

1.Plan ahead.

Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least one month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the developing brain and spine defects like anencephaly or spina bifida. Anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. It is a type of neural tube defect (NTD). As the neural tube forms and closes, it helps form the baby’s brain and skull (upper part of the neural tube), spinal cord, and back bones (lower part of the neural tube). Spina bifida is a condition that affects the spine and is usually apparent at birth. It is a type of neural tube defect (NTD). Spina bifida can happen anywhere along the spine if the neural tube does not close all the way. The backbone that protects the spinal cord does not form and close as it should. This often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves. Spina bifida might cause physical and intellectual disabilities that range from mild to severe. The severity depends on:

  • The size and location of the opening in the spine.
  • Whether part of the spinal cord and nerves are affected.
  • There are 3 types and they are: 1-Myelomeningocele, 2-Meningocele, and 3-Spina Bifida Occulta.
  • 1-Myelomeningocele is the most serious type of spina bifida. With this condition, a sac of fluid comes through an opening in the baby’s back. Part of the spinal cord and nerves are in this sac and are damaged. This type of spina bifida causes moderate to severe disabilities, such as problems affecting how the person goes to the bathroom, loss of feeling in the person’s legs or feet, and not being able to move the legs.
  • 2-Meninocele is a sac of fluid comes through an opening in the baby’s back. But, the spinal cord is not in this sac. There is usually little or no nerve damage. This type of spina bifida can cause minor disabilities.
  • 3-Spina bifida occulta is the mildest type of spina bifida. It is sometimes called “hidden” spina bifida. With it, there is a small gap in the spine, but no opening or sac on the back. The spinal cord and the nerves usually are normal. Many times, spina bifida occulta is not discovered until late childhood or adulthood. This type of spina bifida usually does not cause any disabilities.
    • Women can get folic acid from fortified foods or supplements, or a combination of the two, in addition to a varied diet rich in folate.
    • See a healthcare professional regularly. A woman should be sure to see her doctor when planning a pregnancy and start prenatal care as soon as she thinks that she is pregnant. It is important to see the doctor regularly throughout pregnancy, so a woman should keep all her prenatal care appointments. If you are trying to have a baby or are just thinking about it, it is not too early to start getting ready for pregnancy. Use these checklists to help you write down your goals and have them in a place that you reinforce yourself to maintain them as best as possible for your child’s sake and your own sake as well.

2.Avoid harmful substances.

    • Avoid alcohol at any time during pregnancy.                                    
    • Alcohol in a woman’s bloodstream passes to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including wine and beer. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and These disabilities in the child, which occur because the mother drank alcohol during the pregnancy, are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). The best advice for women is to stop drinking alcohol when trying to get pregnant.
    • Avoid smoking cigarettes.
    • The dangers of smoking during pregnancy include preterm birth, certain birth defects from cleft lip or cleft palate to even infant death and more diseases inherited by mom through smoking. Even being around tobacco smoke puts a woman and her pregnancy at risk for problems. Quitting smoking before getting pregnant is best. For a woman who is already pregnant, quitting as early as possible can still help protect against some health problems for the baby, such as low birth weight. It’s never too late to quit smoking.
    • Avoid marijuana and other “street drugs”.
    • A woman who uses marijuana or other “street” drugs during pregnancy can have a baby who is born preterm, of low birth weight, or has other health problems, such as birth defects. Marijuana is the illicit drug most commonly used during pregnancy. Since we know of no safe level of marijuana use during pregnancy, women who are pregnant, or considering becoming pregnant, should not use marijuana, even in states where marijuana is legal. Women using marijuana for medical reasons should speak with their doctor about an alternative therapy with pregnancy-specific safety data.
    • Prevent infections.
    • Some infections that a woman can get during pregnancy can be harmful to the developing baby and can even cause birth defects. Some easy steps to prevent infections include frequent hand-washing, cooking meat until its well done, and staying away from people who have an infection. 

3.Choose a healthy lifestyle.

    • Keep diabetes under control.
    • Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances for birth defects and other problems for the pregnancy. It can also cause serious complications for the woman. Proper healthcare before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects and other poor outcomes.
    • Strive to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Do you know …Your body mass index (BMI)? Calculate it. Where? Just look it up on the internet anywhere for free.

A woman who is obese (a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher) before pregnancy is at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy. Obesity also increases a pregnant woman’s risk of several serious birth defects. Even if a woman is not actively planning a pregnancy, getting healthy can help boost her health and her mood. If a woman is overweight or obese, she should talk with her doctor about ways to reach a healthy weight before she gets pregnant.

4.Talk with your healthcare provider.

    • Talk to a healthcare provider about taking any medications.
    • We know that certain medications can cause serious birth defects if they are taken during pregnancy. For many medications taken by pregnant women, the safety has been difficult to determine. Despite the limited safety data, some medications are needed to treat serious conditions. If a woman is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, she should not stop taking medications she needs or begin taking new medications without first talking with her healthcare provider. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal products.
    • Talk to a healthcare provider about vaccinations (shots).                                                

Most vaccinations are safe during pregnancy and some vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine and the Tdap vaccine (adult tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine), are specifically recommended during pregnancy. Some vaccines protect women against infections that can cause birth defects. Having the right vaccinations at the right time can help keep a woman and her baby healthy. She should talk to her doctor about which vaccines are recommended for her during pregnancy.

ACPC-American Cleft Palate – Craniofacial Association addresses July the month of awareness to this condition with stating:

“Here are five key facts about clefts and craniofacial conditions, their impact and treatments:

  1. Clefts are usually repaired surgically in the first year of life, though many children require additional surgeries and treatments through adolescence to correct challenges to breathing, eating or speech development.
  2. Individuals born with cleft lip or palate often need specialized dental or orthodontic care throughout their lives as well.
  3. There is no single factor related to the cause of cleft. Sometimes clefts run in families and in some cases have been linked to environmental factors.
  4. Despite unique health challenges, those born with cleft and craniofacial conditions lead fulfilling, successful and accomplished lives.
  5. Coordinated care is the best approach for successful surgical repair. Multidisciplinary teams approved by the ACPA are located across the nation and are comprised of qualified professionals from medical, surgical, dental, speech and allied health disciplines.”

QUOTE FOR FRIDAY:

“The causes of orofacial clefts among most infants are unknown. Cleft lip and cleft palate are thought to be caused by a combination of genes and other factors.

CDC research has found some factors that increase the risk of having a baby with an orofacial cleft:

  • Smoking during pregnancy
  • Having diabetes before pregnancy (type 1 or 2)
  • Use of certain epilepsy medications during pregnancy”

CDC Birth Defects (https://www.cdc.gov/birth-defects/about/cleft-lip-cleft-palate.html)

Part I National Craniofacial and Cleft Palate Awareness and Prevention Month!

What is cleft lip and palate?

National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month is observed in July. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and improve understanding of orofacial clefts, clefts of the lip and palate, and other conditions of the head and face. In the United States, approximately 2,600 babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,400 babies are born with a cleft lip, with or without a cleft palate each year. There are other craniofacial birth defects including craniosynostosis (skull sutures fusing prematurely), anotia/microtia (ear is missing or underdeveloped), and anophthalmia/microphthalmia (missing or abnormally small eye).

There are several forms of cleft lip and palate, and each one requires a slightly different treatment. The three types of cleft lip and palate are

  • Unilateral incomplete
  • Unilateral complete
  • Bilateral complete

What causes cleft lip and cleft palate?

We’re not sure what causes cleft lip and cleft palate. They may be caused by a combination of factors, like genes and things in your everyday life, like certain medicines you take. Risk factors include:

  • Having a family history of cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy
  • Having diabetes before pregnancy
  • Taking certain anti-seizure medicines during the first trimester of pregnancy, like topiramate or valproic acid
  • Being obese during pregnancy.
  • Having certain infections during pregnancy, like rubella (also called German measles)

How are Cleft lip and palate treated?

Cleft lip and palate can cause problems with speech, eating, hearing, and social development. Most of the time, cleft lip and palate can be easily treated with corrective surgery, allowing children born with the condition to live normal lives. However, in some cases – particularly in developing countries where access to medical care is not as widely available – children do not receive treatment. This can result in further problems as the child grows.

July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month.

Cleft lip and cleft palate happen when a baby’s lip or mouth doesn’t form completely during pregnancy. Cleft lip is an opening in a baby’s upper lip. Cleft palate is an opening in the roof of a baby’s mouth. Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects. These conditions affect thousands of babies, children, teens and adults in the United States each year.

Cleft lip and palate happen very early in pregnancy. Your baby’s lips form between 4 and 7 weeks of pregnancy, and the palate forms between 6 and 9 weeks of pregnancy. Cleft lip and palate don’t have to happen together — a baby can have one without the other.

Prevention:

To help reduce the chances of having a baby with an orofacial cleft or other craniofacial condition health care providers must encourage patients who are thinking about becoming pregnant to commit to a healthy lifestyle. Among certain healthy habits, we have: control diabetes, quit smoking, exercise regularly, practice yoga, etc. before becoming pregnant. Moreover, health care providers should also work with prospective parents to make informed decisions about medical treatment during pregnancy. This condition can occur in the first three months of pregnancy. Therefore, steps before becoming pregnant are essential for the health of the baby.

 

QUOTE FOR THURSDAY:

“Group B streptococcus (also called Group B strep or GBS) is a common type of bacteria (tiny organisms that live in and around your body) that can cause infection. Usually GBS is not serious for adults, but it can hurt newborns.

Many people carry Group B strep bacteria and don’t know it. It may never make you sick. GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms, but it can cause some minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI).

While GBS may not be harmful to you, it can be very harmful to your baby. If you’re pregnant, you can pass it to your baby during labor and childbirth.

About 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women carry GBS bacteria. The best way to know if you have GBS is to get tested.”

March of Dimes (https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/planning-baby/group-b-strep-infection)

 

International Group B Strep Awareness

 

Group B Streptococcus (GBS), or Streptococcus agalactiae, is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive and lower reproductive tracts of both men and women.  About 1 in 4 pregnant women “carry” or are “colonized” with GBS.

Carrying GBS does not mean that you are unclean.  Anyone can carry GBS. GBS is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease or infection as it can occur on its own even in someone with no prior sexual experience. However, bacteria can be passed between sexual partners, including through oral contact.

The awareness month for group B strep is July. This is a common bacterium that affects adults and it does not present with any symptoms or signs. The pregnant women can pass these bacteria to their unborn children during the first few months after delivery or during child birth and this can be fatal. Most people who suffer from this bacterial infection are not aware of it and pregnant women get to know about it because of the screening that is done during prenatal visits. The screening tests is usually done during the third trimester and this test was started in the mid 1990s. Research indicates that since that time, the number of children who are affected by this infection has dropped from 1.7 to 0.28 in every 1000 births.

This month helps in raising awareness to women who are pregnant and those who are in the child rearing period to prevent Group B Strep infection. This helps women to keep their unborn babies healthy and safe as the infection can be fatal.

The National Charity that is associated with group B strep advices all pregnant women to be aware of this infection caused by streptococcus group B. This is the most common type of infection in new born babies as it causes meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis which can be fatal in the first few weeks of life. The bacterium is carried by women who do not present with any symptoms and therefore it can be easily passed to the baby during child birth.

The main message that is shared on this month awareness is that Group B Strep is fatal and that the infection can be prevented. People are taught on the need to go for testing as the bacterial colonization can be carried by people in the vagina or the lower intestines. Most people are carriers of this infection but they are not aware because they have never been tested for the same. This is because the infection does not present with any signs or symptoms. However, in some cases, the infection can get access into the blood stream and this can trigger fatal infections. When a pregnant woman gets this infection it can be spread to the unborn baby in the following ways:

While the baby is still in the womb, during a normal or a cesarean section birth, through the urinary tract or amniotic fluid, or through direct contact with the bacteria that is present in the birth canal.

The infants who are infected by this bacterium during birth are prone to infections and this includes meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. The children who survive this infection are at risk of getting long term complications especially in cases where they suffered from meningitis. The common complications that can occur include cerebral palsy, hearing loss, mental and physical disabilities.

Pregnant women should be aware of the need for testing for each pregnancy and it does not matter whether they were tested for the previous pregnancies. This is because all pregnancies are different and it is vital to ensure that the baby is safe in all pregnancies.