Sarcoma Cancer

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A soft tissue sarcoma cancer is a type of cancerous tumor that develops in the soft tissues that surround, connect and support the body’s structure and organs. These tumors can begin anywhere in the body, including the muscles, joints, tendons, fat, blood vessels, nerves and tissues.

What is Sarcoma Cancer?

While there are more than 30 types of sarcoma, it is a very serious yet rare form of cancer that accounts for only about two percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 10,500 sarcomas are diagnosed annually. The majority are in men.

In some cases, the exact type of tissue where a sarcoma originated cannot be determined. However, the majority of soft tissue sarcoma cancer begins in:

  • Blood and lymph vessels
  • Fibrous tissue
  • Joint tissue
  • Muscle tissue
  • Peripheral nerve tissue

At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, our multidisciplinary team of cancer care specialists have the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat sarcoma cancer virtually anywhere in the body.

Learn More About Sarcoma Cancer

Cancer risk factors include exposure to chemicals or other substances, as well as certain behaviors. They also include things people cannot control, like age and family history.

Learn about sarcoma risk factors 

Soft tissue sarcoma symptoms and signs can vary from person to person. Since sarcoma cancer symptoms do not usually present themselves in the early stages, only about half of soft tissue sarcomas are found before they spread.

The location of a sarcoma has a lot to do with the symptoms. For instance, if it starts:

  • On the arms or legs, a lump that grows over a period of weeks or months may be noticed. It may hurt, but it usually does not.
  • In the retroperitoneum (the back wall inside the abdomen), it may cause problems that have painful symptoms. Tumors may cause blockage or bleeding of the stomach or bowels. They may even grow large enough for the tumor to be felt in the abdomen.

If you experience any of the following problems, talk to your doctor:

  • A new lump or a lump that is growing anywhere on your body
  • Abdominal pain that is getting worse
  • Blood in your stool or vomit
  • Black, tarry stools (this may mean there is internal bleeding)

It is important to note that these symptoms do not always indicate sarcoma. However, if you believe you are experiencing any early warning signs of sarcoma it is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor, since they may also signal other health problems.



Blood tests, imaging exams and even surgical procedures are used to check for cancer.

Learn more about a sarcoma diagnosis 

Staging is a way of determining how much disease is in the body and where it has spread (metastasized). This information is important because it helps determine the best type of treatment for you and your outlook for recovery (prognosis).

Learn more about sarcoma staging 

Common cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery. Doctors select the treatment for sarcoma based on your diagnosis and disease stage.

View sarcoma treatment options