Sarcomas

Also known as: soft tissue sarcomas.

What are sarcomas?

Sarcomas are rare kinds of cancers that affect the body’s soft tissues. They are given different names depending on the type of cell or tissue involved including muscles, tendons, bone, fat, etc.

For example osteosarcomas affect bone, liposarcomas come from fat cells etc. This means that sarcomas can affect almost any part of the body. Sarcomas are also given a “grade” (low or high grade) depending on how aggressive the sarcoma cells seem to be.

Children are affected more frequently than adults.

What causes sarcomas?

While we don't know the cause of sarcoma development, a family history of sarcomas or other genetic disease appear to play a role in increasing the risk of developing sarcomas. Certain other medical conditions as well as exposure to chemicals and radiation can lead to the development of soft tissue sarcomas.

What are the signs and symptoms of sarcomas?

As sarcomas can grow anywhere in the body, they may be difficult to diagnose early. Frequently there may be no symptoms, or usually a painless lump or swelling is the first thing seen. Symptoms can arise as the tumor grows larger and begins to press on surrounding nerves or organs (like the lungs giving rise to breathing difficulties).

What are sarcomas care options?

Surgery to remove the tumor is the preferred treatment for soft tissue sarcomas when possible. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy are also often used to treat the cancer that has spread beyond the tumor.


Reviewed by: Maggie Eidson Fader, MD

This page was last updated on: January 13, 2021 01:25 PM

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