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Angiosarcoma in children is rare. This malignant soft tissue sarcoma most often is diagnosed in adults over age 70, but it can occur at any age. Angiosarcoma develops in the blood vessels and the vessels that carry lymphatic fluids away from lymph nodes. It is most common in the skin, breast, liver, head, neck and spleen, but can occur anywhere in the body.
Symptoms of angiosarcoma in children depend on where the cancer is growing. If near the surface of the skin, there can be a bruised area that may bleed easily. The bruised area will get larger and can swell. Angiosarcoma growing in an organ deeper in the body may not have many symptoms, though sometimes there will be pain in the area of the tumor and you may be able to feel a lump.
The causes of angiosarcoma are still a subject of research; however, they may be linked to changes in the genetic code of blood or lymphatic fluid vessels. A number of genetic disorders also are thought to be risk factors for developing angiosarcoma.
Angiosarcoma seems to run in families, and a specific gene has been identified that may cause angiosarcoma in the heart.
Surviving five years after diagnosis is a common measure for cancer recovery. Overall, the five-year survival rate for angiosarcoma is between 31% and 43%. Because the location of angiosarcoma varies and can be a factor in early diagnosis, survival rates widely vary.
By their nature, long-term survival rates don’t reflect the latest advancements in treatment and may underestimate current survival chances.
Angiosarcoma has the best chance of being cured when it’s treated by pediatric cancer specialists. Young adults may benefit from treatment at a children’s hospital instead of an adult-service hospital because of the care team’s expertise specifically in treating childhood diseases.
The physicians at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, actively conduct clinical trials and publish their discoveries about new ways to identify and treat sarcomas and other pediatric cancers.
By staying at the forefront of sarcoma research, our physicians are experienced with newly approved therapies and can provide access to trials of experimental treatments.
Our board-certified and fellowship-trained oncologists come together at regular conferences to share viewpoints from various perspectives that help determine the best course of treatment. It’s like getting second, third and fourth opinions all at once.
Once a sarcoma is suspected, the specialists at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute may use scans such as MRI, CT scan or positron emission tomography (PET) to get information about the tumor’s size and location.
Using a needle, the pediatric cancer specialist may collect a small sample of the tumor in a biopsy. A pathologist at Norton Children’s can identify the tumor by looking at the cells under a microscope.
Because angiosarcoma in children grows fast, the physician team will quickly make a plan to treat it.
Depending on the tumor location, surgeons will remove as much of the angiosarcoma as possible. Whether the child has surgery or not, the oncologist likely will use radiation to pinpoint and destroy the tumor or any diseased cells that couldn’t be removed surgically.
The oncologist also may use chemotherapy to attack the angiosarcoma if it metastasized to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy in conjunction with radiation therapy are often part of a treatment plan for inoperable angiosarcoma.
Norton Children’s Hospital’s cancer care program is one of the oldest oncology programs in the U.S. that has been continuously accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer. Backed by nearly 60 years of pediatric expertise, we have a proven cancer care team of more than 200 leading cancer specialists, including oncologists, surgeons, nurses, social workers, chaplains, behaviorists, therapists and pharmacists. This skilled, multidisciplinary team is entirely focused on the needs of your child and family.
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