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Soft tissues of the body connect, support, and surround other body parts and organs. The soft tissues include the following:
Soft tissue sarcoma may be found anywhere in the body. In children, the tumours form most often in the arms, legs, or trunk (chest and abdomen).
The cells of each type of sarcoma look different under a microscope. The soft tissue tumours are grouped based on the type of soft tissue cell where they first formed.
This summary is about the following types of soft tissue sarcoma:
Bone and cartilage tumours are a mix of bone cells and cartilage cells. Bone and cartilage tumours include the following types:
Fibrous (connective) tissue tumours include the following types:
Skeletal muscle is attached to bones and helps the body move.
Smooth muscle lines the inside of blood vessels and hollow internal organs such as the stomach, intestines, bladder, and uterus.
So-called fibrohistiocytic tumours include the following types:
Tumours of unknown origin (the place where the tumour first formed is not known) include the following types:
Blood vessel tumours include the following types:
See the following summaries for information about types of soft tissue sarcoma not included in this summary:
Soft tissue sarcoma in children may respond differently to treatment, and may have a better prognosis than soft tissue sarcoma in adults. (See the summary on Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment for more information on treatment in adults here.)
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your child’s doctor if you think your child may be at risk.
Risk factors for childhood soft tissue sarcoma include having the following inherited disorders:
Other risk factors include the following:
A sarcoma may appear as a painless lump under the skin, often on an arm, a leg, or the trunk. There may be no other symptoms at first. As the sarcoma grows and presses on nearby organs, nerves, muscles, or blood vessels, it may cause symptoms, such as pain or weakness.
Other conditions may cause the same symptoms as soft tissue sarcoma. Check with your child’s doctor if you see any of these problems in your child.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen. The patient lies on a table that slides into the MRI machine, which takes pictures of the inside of the body. The pad
on the patient’s abdomen helps make the pictures clearer.
If these tests show there may be a soft tissue sarcoma, a biopsy is done. One of the following types of biopsies may be used:
In order to plan the best treatment, the sample of tissue removed during the biopsy must be large enough to find out the type of soft tissue sarcoma and do other laboratory tests. Tissue samples will be taken from the primary tumour, lymph nodes, and other areas that may have a tumour. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells and to find out the type and grade of the tumour. The grade of a tumour depends on how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the cells are dividing. High-grade and mid-grade tumours usually grow and spread more quickly than low-grade tumours.
Because soft tissue sarcoma can be hard to diagnose, parents should ask to have the tissue sample checked by a pathologist who has experience in diagnosing soft tissue sarcoma.
One or more of the following laboratory tests may be done to study the tissue samples:
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
For more information on Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma click here
This link is to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer website in the United States. There may be references to drugs and clinical trials that are not available here in Australia.
Page last updated: 20/07/2018