Soft Tissue Sarcoma

What is soft tissue sarcoma?

Soft-tissue sarcoma is the cancerous tumor developing in the soft tissue (connective tissue) of the body. Soft tissue is the tissue that connects, support the other body structures. Soft tissue include muscles, blood vessels, nerves, the end portion of the muscle attached to the corresponding bone (tendon), lining of the joint cavity (the synovial cover) and fat tissue.

This variety of cancer is not very common but if present these are one of the most serious forms of cancer. People of any age can suffer from soft tissue sarcoma however the disease is diagnosed most commonly in aged persons. Treatment options include surgical removal of the affected part of the body along with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma Symptoms

In early stage there may not be any symptoms however with progression of the disease number of symptoms may arise like appearance of lump or swelling in the affected body part, pain in the area if nerves in the adjacent area are compressed, if the tumor is located inside the abdominal cavity it may lead to blockage of the outlet of the stomach or other part of the digestive tract leading to pain abdomen, vomiting, inability to eat anything or blood vomiting.

These tumors can affect any part of the body however most commonly they affect the digestive tract (gastrointestinal stromal tumor) and the limbs. Approximately 60% of the reported soft-tissue sarcoma involves the arms, legs, buttocks, hands and feet, 20% affect the abdominal or chest cavity and the remaining 10% occur in the head neck region. Untreated soft-tissue sarcoma are tend to increase in size and press other surrounding organs or structures like blood vessels or nerves leading to pain and impaired organ function.

Causes of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Like any other variety of cancer, the cause is not known but mutation (sudden unexpected and irreversible genetic damage) is the most likely cause. Certain varieties of soft-tissue sarcoma (Kaposi’s sarcoma) is seen in patients with poor immunity like HIV/AIDS patients and some are associated with specific hereditary conditions like :

  • Basal cell nevus syndrome where are people are at increased risk of suffering basal cell carcinoma along with rhabdomyosarcoma and fibrosarcoma.
  • Inherited form of retinoblastoma, is a rare type of cancer of eye in children.
  • Gardner syndrome characterized by precancerous and cancerous lesions in the digestive tract.
  • Warner’s syndrome.
  • Tuberous sclerosis.
  • Exposure to radiation therapy and certain type of chemicals like vinyl chloride, dioxin may lead to soft-tissue sarcoma.

Types of Sarcomas

Soft-tissue sarcoma are of different varieties depending upon the tissue of origin.

  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, most commonly occur in children and originates mainly from the muscles.
  • Leiomyosarcoma, affect the smooth muscles of the body.
  • Hemangiosarcoma arises from the blood vessels.
  • Lymphangiosarcoma develops in the lymphatic tissue of the body.
  • Neurofibrosarcoma involves the peripheral nerves of the body.
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma originating from the skin cells.

Treatment of Soft Tissue Sarcomas

Treatment of soft-tissue sarcoma depends upon the size, location and stage of the tumor. In most instances these sarcomas are surgically removed. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be needed thereafter to kill any residual cancerous cells.

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