Introduction of Soft tissue sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcoma is cancer that develops in the soft tissues of the body. The term soft tissue is used to describe all of the supporting tissue in the body apart from the bones – this includes fat, muscle and deep skin tissues. Cancer can develop in any of these cells.

In the UK, around 3,000 people are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma each year. It is more likely to develop in adults over the age of 50.

Soft tissue sarcoma does not usually cause symptoms in the early stages. As the sarcoma grows, a lump may be noticeable and this may be painful if it presses against surrounding tissue and nerves.

There are over 50 different types of soft tissue sarcoma, depending on where in the body they are located. For example:

  • Leiomyosarcomas – which develop in muscle tissue
  • Liposarcomas – which develop in fat tissue
  • Angiosarcomas – which develop in the cells of the blood or lymph vessels

One particular type of soft tissue sarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, develops from skin cells. It is more common in people who have a weakened immune system, including people with HIV.


Soft tissue sarcoma can be treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As with most types of cancer, the outlook for each case depends largely on how far the cancer has advanced when diagnosed.

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