A soft tissue sarcoma usually produces no signs and symptoms in its early stages. As the tumor grows, it may cause:
- A noticeable lump or swelling
- Pain, if it presses on nerves or muscles
- A blockage in the stomach or intestines or gastrointestinal bleeding if the tumor is located in the abdomen or digestive tract
Soft tissue sarcomas can occur anywhere in your body, but the most common types of soft tissue sarcomas are gastrointestinal stromal tumors and soft tissue sarcomas that affect the extremities. About 60 percent of soft tissue sarcomas occur in the arms, legs, buttocks, hands or feet. Another 20 percent occur in the chest and abdomen. About 10 percent are found in the head and neck.
Soft tissue sarcomas go by a variety of names, depending on the tissue in which they originate. Examples of some sarcomas and their locations include:
||More common in children, this sarcoma occurs in the skeletal muscles.
||Occurs in the smooth muscles — muscles not under voluntary control. Found most commonly in the uterus, gastrointestinal tract or lining of blood vessels.
||Affects blood vessels, especially in areas that have previously received radiation treatment.
||A malignancy that occurs in blood vessel walls. Often affects people with immune deficiencies, such as HIV/AIDS.
||Affects the lymph vessels and is sometimes seen in a limb with chronic swelling (lymphedema). This can be from an area of prior radiation therapy or certain rare chronic infections.
||Tissue around joints such as knees and ankles are affected. Typically occurs in children and young adults.
||Occurs in the peripheral nerves.
||Fatty tissue, often in your legs and trunk, is affected.
||Fibrous tissue in your arms, legs or trunk may be affected.
|Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
||A fibrous tissue tumor more likely to occur in the legs.
Grows in the tissue beneath your skin, and often develops in your trunk or limbs.
When to see a doctor
Talk to your doctor if you discover a lump that persists or grows in size. In addition, see your doctor right away if the lump is painful.
Sep. 13, 2011
- DeLaney TF. Overview of soft tissue sarcoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 21, 2011.
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- Detailed guide: Sarcoma — Adult soft tissue cancer. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003138-pdf.pdf. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Soft tissue sarcomas. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00508. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Lahat G, et al. Sarcoma epidemiology and etiology: Potential environmental and genetic factors. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2008;88:451.
- Kenney RJ, et al. Soft tissue sarcomas: Current management and future directions. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2009;89:235.
- Thornton K. Chemotherapeutic management of soft tissue sarcoma. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2008;88:647.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 31, 2011.