Soft tissue sarcoma is a form of cancer that originates in the soft tissues including the muscle, fat, nerves, blood vessels, tendons, and linings of the joints. It commonly occurs in the legs, abdomen, and arms.
Soft tissue sarcoma is caused by cell mutations resulting in uncontrolled growth of cells with the formation of a tumor. The tumor may invade surrounding structures and also spread to distant parts of the body. Factors that increase the risk of developing a soft tissue sarcoma include inherited syndromes, exposure to certain types of chemicals such as herbicides, and radiation exposure.
In the early stages of the disease, the soft tissue sarcoma may not exhibit any symptoms. However, once the tumor has increased in size there may be a noticeable swelling or lump as well as pain as the tumor impinges on the surrounding muscles and nerves.
A diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma is based on symptoms, physical examination, and tests. Imaging studies such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and biopsy of the tumor are performed to help confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment includes surgical removal of the tumor with healthy margins. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy is recommended if complete surgical removal of the soft tissue sarcoma is not possible, the cancer has spread or to shrink the tumor prior to surgery.