Soft Tissue Sarcoma

These are one of the rare forms of cancer that affects the soft tissues. Sarcoma is the term used for cancers affecting the bones or muscles while soft tissue implies fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues or blood vessels. As per the latest data, approximately 1 % of all adult tumors and 15% of paediatric tumors are soft tissue sarcomas.

The exact causative factors for these sarcomas have not been detected. Though there are certain soft tissue tumors that are benign like lipoma, hemiangioma, and fibroma, the term soft tissue sarcomas indictates the cancerous tumors affecting the soft tissues.

Risk Factors

  1. Prior radiation Treatment: The major risk factor includes prior radiation treatment for some other type of cancer that gradually results in the development  of a soft tissue sarcoma.
  2. Gender: Males are more prone to this disease as compared to females.


The signs and symptoms of soft tissue carcinomas are not exclusive and may resemble other diseases. The common symptoms include:

  1. Lump anywhere on the body.
  2. Pain in the abdomen
  3. Passage of blood in stools or black stools
  4. Blood in vomiting
  5. Fullness and constipation
  6. Cough or breathless if lungs are affected

Most of the symptoms are evident due to the pressure exerted by the lump on the surrounding structures. These symptoms vary according to the location of the tumor, most common being arms and legs.

Commonly Affected sites:

Soft tissue sarcomas are most commonly known to affect the extremtities, especially the lower legs. This is followed by trunk, retroperitoneum and head & neck.

Though there are more than 50 types of soft tissue sarcomas, the following are most common:

  1. Leiomyosarcoma: One of the most common type of soft tissue tumors that can arise any where in the body including abdomen, blood vessels and muscles.
  2. Liposarcoma: It occurs due to the proliferation of adopocytes (fat cells), most frequently present in the abdomen followed by legs and esophagus.
  3. Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors: It is a rare malignancy that affects the head and neck region.
  4. Pleomorphic sarcoma: It affects the extremities, chestwall, abdomen of the older adults and it tends to be aggressive.
  5. Ewing’s sarcoma: It is an aggressive tumor affecting tissues of young adults.(youtube link)
  6. Synovial sarcoma: It may occur both in children and adults that can occur in any part of the body.
  7. Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST): It is a rare tumor that tends to affect stomach and small intestine.
  8. Rhabdomyosarcoma: It is a paediatric soft tissue sarcoma that is commonly observed to affect the skeletal muscles.


The anatomic site of the primary disease is an important variable influencing treatment options and outcome. The initial approach towards a tumor is to resect it if possible without damaging the surrounding structures. The other options include chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The approach of these treatments vary according to the stage and extetnt of the disease. In case of a an advanced stage disease with metastasis, palliative approach is adopted.

Immunotherapy Treatment

Immunotherapy is the fourth modality of treatment for cancer. This is a scientific evidence based treatment that fouses on the upliftment of the quality of life of the patient. The underlying pathology of cancer involves dysfunction in the immune system that leads to abnormal multiplication of the cells leading to formation of a tumor.

Immunotherapy rectifies the abnormal functioning of the immune system and facilitates an effective immune response towards the cancerous activity in the body. The approach towards the disease in immunotherapy treatment makes all the difference in which there is no harm to the healthy cells of the body, thus there are no side effects.

Immunotherapy is a healing method that assists the patient in recovering from cancer in a painless manner. Unlike the conventional modes of treatment, immunotherapy medications act in such a manner so as to ensure the minimal risk of relapse of cancer.

Thus, it has emerged as an extremely effective treatment for various types of soft tissue sarcomas.

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