Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Soft tissue sarcoma is a cancer that starts in soft tissues of the body,
including muscle, tendons, fat, lymph vessels, blood vessels, nerves,
and tissue around joints. The tumors can be found anywhere in the body
but often form in the arms, legs, chest, or abdomen.
Signs of soft tissue sarcoma include a lump or swelling in soft tissue.
Sometimes there are no signs or symptoms until the tumor is big and presses
on nearby nerves or other parts of the body.
Both children and adults can develop soft tissue sarcoma. Treatment often
works better in children and they may have a better chance of being cured
There are many types of soft tissue sarcoma, based on the type of soft
tissue cell in which the cancer formed. Different types may be treated
- Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma in children.
It begins in muscles that are attached to bones and help the body move.
Most rhabdomyosarcomas are diagnosed in children younger than 10 years.
Rhabdomyosarcomas usually form lumps near the surface of the body and
are found early.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors are soft tissue sarcomas that form in soft
tissues of the gastrointestinal tract, usually in the stomach or small
intestine. They are most common in adults, and may be benign (not cancer)
or malignant (cancer). Gastrointestinal stromal tumors often do not cause
- Ewing sarcoma, Kaposi sarcoma, and uterine sarcoma are other types of soft
Radiation therapy and certain diseases and inherited conditions can increase
the risk of soft tissue sarcoma.
Key points to consider
- Adult soft tissue sarcoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells
form in the soft tissues of the body.
- Having certain inherited disorders can increase the risk of adult soft
- A sign of adult soft tissue sarcoma is a lump or swelling in soft tissue
of the body.
- Adult soft tissue sarcoma is diagnosed with a biopsy.
- Certain factors affect treatment options and prognosis (chance of recovery).
The soft tissues of the body include the muscles, tendons (bands of fiber
that connect muscles to bones), fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves,
and tissues around joints. Adult soft tissue sarcomas can form almost
anywhere in the body, but are most common in the head, neck, arms, legs,
trunk, and abdomen.
Soft tissue sarcoma forms in soft tissues of the body, including muscle,
tendons, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves, and tissue around joints.
There are many types of soft tissue sarcoma. The cells of each type of
sarcoma look different under a microscope, based on the type of soft tissue
in which the cancer began.
- Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma
- Ewing Sarcoma Family of Tumors
- Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors
- Kaposi Sarcoma
- Uterine Sarcoma
Risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma include the following inherited disorders:
- Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1; von Recklinghausen disease).
- Tuberous sclerosis (Bourneville disease).
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP; Gardner syndrome).
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
- Werner syndrome (adult progeria).
- Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (Gorlin syndrome).
- Other risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma include the following:
- Past treatment with radiation therapy for certain cancers.
- Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as Thorotrast (thorium dioxide),
vinyl chloride, or arsenic.
- Having swelling (lymphedema) in the arms or legs for a long time.
A sarcoma may appear as a painless lump under the skin, often on an arm
or a leg. Sarcomas that begin in the abdomen may not cause signs or symptoms
until they get very big. As the sarcoma grows bigger and presses on nearby
organs, nerves, muscles, or blood vessels, signs and symptoms may include:
Source: National Cancer Institute
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