Soft tissue sarcoma is growth of cancer cells in soft tissue. Soft tissue includes muscles, tendons, connective tissue, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and joint tissue. There are many types of soft tissue sarcoma.
Cancer happens when cells divide without control or order. These cells grow together to form a tumor. They can invade and damage nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body.
It is not clear what causes changes in the cells. It is likely a combination of genes and environment.
In the early stages, a sarcoma is small and does not cause symptoms. Symptoms occur as the tumor grows.
The most common symptom is a lump or swelling. It may or may not be painful. Symptoms vary, depending on the part of the body that is affected. For example, tumors found in the following areas of the body may develop these symptoms:
Arm, leg, or trunk—uncomfortable swelling in the affected limb
Chest—cough and breathlessness
Abdomen—belly pain, vomiting, and problems passing stool
Uterus—bleeding from the vagina and pain in the pelvis or lower belly
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Imaging tests will help locate tumors. They may include:
Bourcier K, Le Cesne A, et al. Basic knowledge in soft tissue sarcoma. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2019;42(9):1255-1261.
General information about adult soft tissue sarcoma. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/patient/adult-soft-tissue-treatment-pdq. Accessed March 18, 2021.
Soft tissue sarcoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/soft-tissue-sarcoma.html. Accessed March 18, 2021.
Soft tissue sarcomas. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/soft-tissue-sarcomas. Accessed March 18, 2021.
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