Sarcoma (soft tissue cancer)

General or Other | Oncology | Sarcoma (soft tissue cancer) (Disease)


Soft tissue sarcomas are cancerous (malignant) tumors that originate in the soft tissues of your body. Soft tissues connect, support and surround other body structures. The soft tissues include muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and the lining of your joints (synovial tissues). A large variety of soft tissue sarcomas can occur in these areas.

Sarcomas are divided into two categories: soft tissue and bone. Sarcomas are cancers of the body tissues, and of the bone as opposed to specific organs. They arise in bone, cartilage, muscle, fat, nerves, blood vessels and other connective tissue. Although soft tissue sarcomas may develop in any part of the body, in both children and adults they are most commonly found in the trunk, arms, and legs.

The primary symptom of a soft tissue sarcoma may appear as a solid mass or lump. If the mass interferes with a function of the body, it may cause other symptoms. Bone sarcomas usually present with symptoms of pain and swelling of a bone or a bone region.

Causes and Risk factors

Generally, the cause of most soft tissue sarcomas is unknown. One of the few soft tissue sarcomas that has a known cause is Kaposis sarcoma. It occurs in people with defective immune systems and is caused by a virus known as human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8). Additionally, in some cases, sarcomas may be hereditary.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If there are symptoms, a doctor may cut out a piece of tissue from the swollen area. This is called a biopsy.

The selection of treatment is determined by the grade of the tumor, it is essential to have a careful review of the biopsy tissue by a pathologist who is experienced in diagnosing sarcomas. Complete staging and treatment planning by a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists is required to determine the best treatment for someone with this disease.