Soft tissue sarcomas are malignant tumors in the connective tissues that are in and around organs and extremities. The causes of this type of cancer is unknown but it is higher among those with chemical and radiation exposure.
Naming Soft Tissue Sarcomas
These types of sarcomas are named for the type of tissue they begin in. Such cancer examples include lymphangiosarcoma for those starting in the blood and lymph system and gastrointestinal stromal tumor, or GIST, for those starting in the mesenchymal cells.
The amount of cases of soft tissue sarcomas are relatively rare, only 9,500 cases reported in 2006 in the United States. This is less than 1% of the total cancers. Conversely, they make up 7% of all cancers occurring in children and young adults.
Diagnosing Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Other than a physical exam, doctors use imaging tests such as the x-ray, the CT scan, and the MRI. Biopsy testing, in which a small sample of tissue is selected, can also be studied to check for cancer. CT scans, x-rays, and MRIs all check for tumors and lumps. After accessing the size and location of the tumor, then a biopsy can check the tissue in the lump for cancer cells.
Depending on the stage of the disease, treatment will vary. Some options that will be given are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Surgery is more typical and will minimize the amount of healthy noncancerous tissue to be removed. Radiation will kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Chemotherapy can kill cancer cells as well. Only your doctor will know which of these treatments will be best for you.
Soft tissue sarcomas, while rare, are still part of life for some individuals. Knowing how it is diagnosed, how it is treated, and the prognosis, can help one be better informed.
Source: National Cancer Institute