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Soft Tissue Sarcoma

A soft tissue sarcoma is a rare malignant cancer that forms in the soft tissues. It may present as a painless lump in the soft tissues, and may occur in fat, muscle, nerves, skin tissue, blood tissue and the tissue that surrounds the joints. While it can occur at any age, it’s most common in people over 55 years old.

Read more information on the Cancer Council fact sheet on Soft Tissue Sarcoma

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Soft tissue sarcoma is often asymptomatic in its early stages. As it grows a painless lump forms which, over time, may cause pressure on surrounding structures such as nerves and muscles, and then cause pain.

The causes of most sarcomas are not known, but risks may be increased if:

  • They have been previously treated with radiotherapy. Most people who have radiotherapy will not develop cancer, but the risk is higher if they had high doses at a young age
  • There is a genetic predisposition, or family history of cancer

Your Doctor will do a physical examination and take a medical history, they may request some of the following tests:

  • Blood test
  • X-ray
  • CT or MRI scans
  • PET scan
  • Biopsy

Your treatment will be specific to your case.

After careful history and physical examination, your surgeon will order appropriate tests, in order to get more information on the tumour, and also to determine if the tumour has spread to other parts of the body.

Sometimes a biopsy may be required to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy is a sample of tissue, taken from the tumour. This is sent to a pathologist who examines the tissue under a microscope in order to confirm the diagnosis. Your case may also be discussed amongst a team of cancer specialists at an MDT (Multi-Disciplinary Team) Meeting prior to elaborating a treatment plan.

Your surgeon will discuss your particular treatment plan in detail and answer any questions you may have at your appointment.

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