Soft Tissue Sarcoma (STS)

What is Soft Tissue Sarcoma (STS)?

Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) is a rare type of cancer that forms in tissues supporting the body’s organs, such as muscle, fat, fibrous or vascular tissue, but not in bone. STS tumors are usually found in the arms, legs, chest, abdomen and back. They may also be found in other areas of the body.

Types of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

There are more than 50 different types of soft tissue sarcomas, each with its own clinical characteristics. The main types are:

  • Liposarcoma
  • Fibrosarcoma
  • Kaposi sarcoma
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)
  • Synovial sarcoma

Risk Factors for Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Though the exact cause of soft tissue sarcoma is unknown, there are a number of risk factors that have been identified. These factors include:

  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as vinyl chloride, dioxin and PCPs.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Exposure to certain types of virus, such as Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus.
  • Genetic syndromes, such as Li–Fraumeni syndrome.

Symptoms of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

The most common symptom of soft tissue sarcoma is a painless lump or swelling in the affected area, which may grow slowly. Most lumps or swelling associated with STS may not cause pain, although pain can be a sign of more advanced disease. Other symptoms of STS may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia

Diagnosis of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

The diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma usually starts with the physical exam, followed by x-rays, CT scans, MRI, PET scans, and lab tests. A biopsy may be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis. If a biopsy is recommended the tissue sample will be tested in a lab to determine the type of STS.

Treatment of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

The treatment of soft tissue sarcoma may vary depending on the size, type and location of the tumor. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or targeted therapy. Clinical trials may also be an option.