May 18, 2023
It is a rare form of cancer that occurs in the soft tissues of the body, such as the muscles, tendons, fat, nerves, and blood vessels, eventually spreading to other parts of the body. Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) accounts for less than 1% of all cancers and is more prevalent in children and young adults. STS is a cancer that can occur anywhere in the body. However, it most commonly affects the limbs, the trunk, and the retroperitoneum (the area behind the abdominal cavity).
Although there are over 50 subtypes of soft tissue sarcoma, most of them are rare. The following are the most common types of STS:
A type of STS that starts in fat cells and is commonly found in the legs, abdomen, and retroperitoneum. This subtype accounts for approximately 18% of all STS cases.
It starts in smooth muscle cells and is most commonly found in the uterus, gastrointestinal tract, and retroperitoneum.
This is a type of STS that usually affects the tissues around the joints. It generally occurs in the arms or legs, but can also affect the head, neck, or trunk.
This type develops in the gastrointestinal tract cells and is commonly found in the stomach or small intestine.
It is relatively rare and originates in the cells lining blood vessels.
Although more research is required to detect the exact causes of soft tissue sarcoma (STS), there are a few factors that may increase the risk of developing this disease. The following are the most common risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma:
Individuals with a history of radiation exposure during nuclear accidents or those who have underdone radiotherapy treatment for cancer are at an increased risk of developing this disease. Those who received radiation therapy at a young age are more vulnerable to STS.
In some cases, inherited genetic mutations such as mutations in the TP53 gene may also cause STS.
Certain chemicals, such as vinyl chloride and dioxin, usually come from industrial settings and can contaminate water or soil. Consistent exposure to these harmful chemicals for a long time can contribute to STS.
Those with a history of medical conditions such as neurofibromatosis and Li-Fraumeni syndrome may increase the likelihood of developing STS.
The signs and symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma (STS) can vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. However, the following are some common symptoms that may indicate the presence of a tumor.
However, individuals with STS may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of the disease, and some of these symptoms may indicate other health conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to consult a primary care physician immediately if someone experiences these symptoms in order to get an accurate diagnosis.
Diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma involves a range of tests including medical history evaluation, physical examination, and imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI, and PET scans. Imaging tests help locate the tumor, evaluate its size, and determine if it has spread to other parts of the body. Following the initial tests, a biopsy is recommended to confirm a diagnosis.
Common STS treatment options include:
Oncologists often recommend surgery as the primary treatment for STS to remove the tumor along with a margin of healthy tissue. In some cases, they may use less invasive techniques such as Mohs surgery or cryosurgery if the cancer is localized
Radiation therapy may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor, after surgery to kill any remaining cancer-affected cells, or as a primary treatment for inoperable tumors.
Although it is not a conventional treatment option for STS, chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with surgery and radiation therapy, or as a primary treatment for advanced or metastatic STS.
Targeted therapy is used for certain types of STS, such as gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).
Immunotherapy is also specific for certain types of STS, such as synovial sarcoma.
STS treatment plans vary depending on individual cases and may involve a combination of these treatment options. It is critical to work closely with a multidisciplinary healthcare team to determine the most appropriate course of treatment based on individual needs and circumstances.
Recurrence is a common concern for individuals suffering from STS, as it can sometimes return after the initial course of treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, about 50% of people with STS will experience a recurrence in their lifetime.
Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) has a higher chance of recurrence rate because of its aggressive nature. STS is a complex medical condition where the tumor grows rapidly, and it also has different subtypes that may require different treatment approaches. If initial treatment is not effective for a particular subtype, cancer is more likely to recur.
The overall five-year survival rate for soft tissue sarcoma is around 65% and varies widely depending on factors such as the stage and subtype of STS.
For instance, the five-year survival rate for localized STS is around 80% (cancer has not spread to other parts of the body) and for metastatic STS (cancer has spread to other parts of the body), it is around 20%.
While it is not currently possible to prevent soft tissue sarcoma, there are a few steps individuals can follow to detect and treat the condition early. Stay aware of risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma and seek medical attention immediately if there are any symptoms that may indicate the presence of the condition. It can help healthcare providers take prompt action and treat the condition before it spreads.
Additionally, individuals should also maintain regular follow-up appointments with their healthcare providers to monitor their overall health and prevent the recurrence of soft tissue sarcoma. For any queries or concerns about soft tissue sarcoma, contact ACTC, one of the leading cancer treatment centers in Florida that provides personalized cancer care. Visit our website or contact us at 352-345-4565 to schedule an appointment with our oncologists.