Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) is cancer that forms in the soft tissue of the body. Soft tissue connects, supports, or surrounds other body parts. In adults, STS is rare.
There are many different types of soft tissue cancers. The type of sarcoma depends on the tissue it forms in:
The cancer can form almost anywhere, but is most common in the:
It is not known what causes most sarcomas. But there are certain risk factors:
In early stages, there are often no symptoms. As the cancer grows, it may cause a lump or swelling that keeps growing over time. Most lumps are NOT cancer.
Other symptoms include:
Your health care provider will ask you about your medical history and do a physical exam. Other tests may include:
If your provider suspects cancer, you might have a biopsy to check for cancer. In a biopsy, your provider collects a tissue sample to examine in the lab.
The biopsy will show if cancer is present and help show how quickly it is growing. Your provider may ask for more tests to stage the cancer. Staging can tell how much cancer is present and whether it has spread.
Surgery is the most common treatment for STS.
You also may have radiation or chemotherapy:
Chemotherapy may be used to help kill cancer that has metastasized. This means it has spread to different areas of the body.
Cancer affects how you feel about yourself and your life. You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have had the same experiences and problems can help you feel less alone.
Ask your provider to help you find a support group for people who have been diagnosed with STS.
The outlook for people whose cancer is treated early is very good. Most people who survive 5 years can expect to be cancer-free at 10 years.
Complications include side effects from surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
See your provider about any lump that grows in size or is painful.
The cause of most STSs isn't known and there is no way to prevent it. Knowing your risk factors and telling your provider when you first notice symptoms can increase your chance of surviving this type of cancer.
Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.