Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lifestyle choices: sarcoma v. carcinoma

Carcinomas occur more commonly among older individuals and can be attributed to various lifestyle choices. Smoking cigarettes, having a faulty diet, and lack of exercise can all contribute to the development of a carcinoma. In contrast, sarcomas can occur in people of all ages – from newborns, infants, teenagers, to young and mature adults. Also unlike carcinomas, a sarcoma isn’t thought to be associated with any lifestyle choices. You can’t get sarcoma from eating the wrong foods, making love, or from insufficient exercise.
-- from SARC (Sarcoma Alliance for Research Through Collaboration), a cooperative of the top U.S. sarcoma doctors
By Suzie Siegel

Let the party begin!

All joking aside, this information matters to the science of sarcoma and the treatment of patients. Scientists need to know what does and does not cause sarcoma so that we can do a better job of prevention.

People who are athletic, eat a healthy diet, don't smoke or drink, take vitamin supplements, etc., can still get sarcoma. They may say: "I did everything right! It's not fair. How could I have gotten this terrible cancer?"

No matter what their lifestyle, most people diagnosed with sarcoma will wonder what caused it, and many will feel guilt or shame that they did something wrong. One man I knew went on a very strict diet, but when his sarcoma returned, he questioned whether it was his fault for eating a slice of pizza months before.

Once, I listened in disbelief as an RN told a patient that her bad diet had caused her sarcoma, and now she had to eat better. The patient was getting chemo, and she was not supposed to eat salads or raw fruits and vegetables, unless they could be peeled.

Some chemo patients struggle with nausea and vomiting, not wanting to eat anything. I remember another woman who was dangerously thin, and her loved ones kept stressing that she had to eat only the most nutritious foods. Her sarcoma specialist and a registered dietitian told her that she could eat candy bars if that's the only thing she could stomach. That advice, plus better medical treatment, allowed her to put on weight and regain strength. Of course, she didn't eat only candy bars, but a candy bar now and then helped.

Please don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying that lifestyle doesn't matter at all. It makes sense to do what you can to strengthen your body for whatever may lie ahead. Just don't blame yourself for your sarcoma.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a teenager nd i got leukemias,i dnt knw wat to tink or do,dis have change my lyf i cnt enjoy lyf as grandmother cnt evn afford my chemotherapy and am dng matric am worried if i wil be able to continue wit my studies.plz advise me i dnt want to give up on my life nd am afraid to die.