Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Cancerous tumors that occur in the body's soft tissue are called soft tissue sarcomas. Soft tissue may include muscles, tendons (which connect muscle to bone), fat, nerves, lymph vessels (which filter and transport fluid away from tissue before returning it to the blood), blood vessels, and the tissue that lines joints. This tissue surrounds or connects other body structures, such as bones. Soft tissue sarcoma can occur anywhere in the body, but in more than half of cases it is found in the buttocks or the body's extremities, including arms, hands, legs, and feet. They also are seen frequently in the abdomen, where they are called gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Soft tissue sarcomas can originate in the head or neck, though rarely. Cancer of the soft tissue is not especially common, but it can be serious if it is advanced.

Soft tissue sarcomas usually start as small, painless lumps under the skin or as a swelling of body tissue. A biopsy (a sample of the suspicious area) usually is taken to diagnose the sarcoma, and it may require a partial or complete removal of the affected tissue to determine if it is cancerous. Risk factors for developing soft tissue sarcoma include exposure to certain chemicals, previous radiation therapy, and long-term swelling of the arms and legs, called lymphedema. Some inherited disorders such as retinoblastoma or tuberous sclerosis also may increase the risk.

Why UAB

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center provides the latest in advanced cancer care for patients in Alabama and the surrounding region. Cancer specialists at UAB Medicine employ a team approach, combining multiple specialists trained in medical, surgical, and radiation oncology as well as pathology and other key fields. Our National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only one in a six-state region and one of just 40 in the nation. Our 330-plus physicians and researchers treat an estimated 5,000 new patients each year, and they are dedicated to providing leading-edge care in a compassionate environment while developing a comprehensive treatment plan designed specifically for each patient.

Our excellence has not gone unnoticed. Becker's Hospital Review included UAB on its recent list of "100 Hospitals and Health Systems with Great Oncology Programs” – a testament to patient care, cancer outcomes, and research – and the center has consistently been recognized for excellence by U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, the center developed the UAB Health System Cancer Community Network, an elite group that includes 10 partner hospitals across five states, with the goal of expanding the availability and quality of cancer services for patients. Together with our team of experts, your fight is our fight.

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Related Treatments

Depending on your case and your physician’s assessment, your condition may be treated using one or more various procedures. Some of those procedures are listed below for your convenience. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and may vary depending on your specific diagnosis.

Clinical Trials

UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue sarcoma. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information on clinical trials at clinicaltrials.gov.

View Clinical Trials