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Clinical Specialties - Cancer

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Skin & Soft Tissue Tumour MDTSoft tissue sarcoma is a rare cancer that begins in the soft tissues of the body such as muscles, fat, nerves, tendons and blood and lymph vessels. Soft tissues can also be contained within organs. 

The soft tissue cancer experts at Sydney Adventist Hospital use several methods to confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of your disease. They have experience with early-stage as well as complex cancer; have access to advanced diagnostic tools and a wide range of treatments, including clinical trials. At the same time, our supportive clinicians help you manage side effects to support your quality of life. Explore this section to learn more about soft tissue sarcoma, its side effects and your treatment options.

About soft tissue sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that begins in the tissues that connect, support and surround other body structures. This includes muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and the lining of your joints.

There are over 70 types of soft tissue sarcoma that exist. Some types are more likely to affect children, while others affect mostly adults. These tumours can be difficult to diagnose because they may be mistaken for many other types of growths. They’re named after the abnormal cells that make up the sarcoma.

What are the symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma?

A soft tissue sarcoma may not cause any signs and symptoms in its early stages. As the tumour grows, it may cause:

  • A noticeable lump or swelling
  • Pain, if a tumour presses on nerves or muscles
How is soft tissue sarcoma diagnosed?

If your doctor thinks you may have a soft tissue sarcoma, they'll organise blood tests, x-rays and scans. The purpose of these tests is to rule out other conditions, however if the results suggest that you may have sarcoma your doctor will refer you to a specialist.

Your specialist may suggest you need to have a biopsy to determine whether you have a soft tissue sarcoma. A biopsy requires taking a sample of cells from the lump and examining them under a microscope.

A pathologist (a doctor trained in analysing body tissues) examines the tissue sample for signs of cancer and to understand the type of cancer, as well as to determine whether the cancer is aggressive.

Once a diagnosis has been made, your integrated team of skin and soft tissue experts will use these test results to determine the stage or extent of the cancer which will largely influence the recommended treatment approach.

What are my treatment options?

Treatment options for soft tissue sarcoma will depend on the size, type and location of the tumour, with surgery being the most common form of treatment.

Surgery generally involves removing the cancer and some healthy tissue surrounding it. When soft tissue sarcoma affects the arms and legs, radiation and chemotherapy may be considered to shrink the tumour to avoid amputation.

The multi-disciplinary team of skin and soft tissue experts at Sydney Adventist Hospital will tailor a treatment plan based on your personal circumstances, particular diagnosis and pathology results.

Resources and useful soft tissue sarcoma links
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Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical Specialties and Services