Symptoms of Soft Tissue Sarcomas
In sarcoma’s early stages, you might not notice symptoms, but this changes as the cancer grows. Each person experiences sarcomas differently. Symptoms may include:
- A noticeable but painless mass
- Pain if the sarcoma grows large enough to press on nearby nerves or organs
- Numbness in the hands or feet
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in your stools
Soft Tissue Sarcoma Diagnosis
After a thorough physical exam, we use a variety of tests to confirm a soft tissue sarcoma diagnosis and plan treatments. Learn more about diagnosis.
Testing may include:
- Biopsy: A procedure to take a sample of abnormal tissue so we can test it for cancer.
- Pathology review: Pathologists evaluate biopsy under a microscope to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis.
- CT scan: A rotating device takes images from different angles, and special technology assembles them for a 3D view of the sarcoma.
- MRI: This test uses a strong magnet and radio waves to produce detailed images of your soft tissue.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: This test uses a special dye to detect cells with abnormally high activity levels, including cancer cells.
Treatments for Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Your personalized care plan may include:
- Radiation therapy: This treatment uses high-energy radiation to shrink the cancer before surgery. Radiation therapy also eliminates microscopic traces of cancer that may remain after surgery. Find out more about radiation therapy.
- Surgery: Cancer surgeons remove the sarcoma along with a rim of healthy tissue (margin) to lower the risk of it coming back. These specialized procedures take careful planning to avoid disrupting delicate areas like major nerves and arteries. Read more about cancer surgery.
- Isolated limb infusion: This treatment delivers high doses of cancer drugs (chemotherapy) directly to the tumor to stop it from growing.
- Supportive care: Treatment side effects can affect the way you feel and what you are comfortably able to do in your daily life. Assistance from cancer dieticians, physical therapists and social workers may ease some of these changes. Read more about supportive care.
Specialized Care for Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST)
The cancer team uses some of these same care methods to treat other complex soft-tissue cancers, including GIST. These tumors form in special cells (interstitial cells of Cajal) that are part of the gastrointestinal system. Care may include surgery and a drug, Gleevec, that specifically targets and destroys GIST cells.