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Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Soft Tissue Sarcoma Symptoms and Risks

Soft tissue sarcoma is a very rare form of cancer that has several different subtypes. Doctors still are not sure what causes soft tissue sarcoma to develop. Soft tissue sarcoma symptoms vary depending on the cancer location, subtype and other factors.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center offers the most advanced methods for the detection, diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue sarcoma. As an academic medical center, we can also connect you to clinical trials so you have access to the latest advances in medical science to effectively treat your soft tissue cancer.

Soft tissue sarcoma symptoms

Soft tissue cancer often has no symptoms (is asymptomatic) in its earliest stages. The most common symptom of soft tissue sarcoma is swelling or a noticeable lump, which is usually painless. These tumors most often develop first in the extremities (arm or leg), although they can grow anywhere in the body. Pain may develop in the cancer’s later stages as the tumor grows larger and presses on the nerves or into the muscle.

Other possible soft tissue sarcoma symptoms include:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Numbness, burning or tingling sensation 
  • Enlargement of varicose veins
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling (edema) if tumors press against the lymph nodes
  • Open sores, if tumors are close enough to the skin’s surface to cause damage

These symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have soft tissue cancer. Only testing and diagnosis can confirm the presence of soft tissue sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcoma risk factors

Most cases of soft tissue sarcoma don’t have any known cause. However, there are some risk factors that researchers have connected to soft tissue cancers:

  • Your family’s health history: If people in your family have a history of sarcoma or other childhood cancers, your risk may increase. Your doctor may recommend genetic testing to evaluate your cancer risk.

  • Your personal health history: Certain diseases, like neurofibromatosis, retinoblastoma and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, have been linked with an increased risk of soft tissue sarcomas.

  • Exposure to radiation: People who have had high-dose radiation, including those who have had radiation therapy to treat other cancers, have a higher risk of developing soft tissue cancer.

  • Exposure to chemicals: It’s possible that significant exposure to certain chemicals can increase the risk of getting soft tissue sarcoma.

  • Lymphedema: People whose lymph system is damaged after radiation of the lymph nodes or surgery to remove the lymph nodes have a higher chance of developing soft tissue cancer.


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