Pathophysiology: A soft-tissue sarcoma is a form of sarcoma that develops in connective tissue, though the term is sometimes applied to elements of the soft tissue that are not currently considered connective tissue.
Symptoms: In their early stages, soft-tissue sarcomas usually do not cause symptoms. Because soft tissue is relatively elastic, tumors can grow rather large, pushing aside normal tissue, before they are felt or cause any problems. The first noticeable symptom is usually a painless lump or swelling. As the tumor grows, it may cause other symptoms, such as pain or soreness, as it presses against nearby nerves and muscles.
Treatment: The stage of the sarcoma is based on the size and grade of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body (metastasized). Treatment options for soft-tissue sarcomas include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is the most common treatment for soft-tissue sarcomas. It is important to obtain a margin free of tumor to decrease the likelihood of local recurrence and give the best chance for eradication of the tumor.
Statistics: In 2010 there were 531 new diagnoses of bone sarcoma and 3,298 new diagnoses of soft tissue sarcoma in the UK. The age-standardised incidence of bone sarcoma remained constant at around 7.9 per million between 1996 and 2010. Soft tissue sarcoma incidence rates increased significantly from 39 per million to 45 per million during the same time period. This increase may reflect improved diagnostic techniques and reporting rather than a true increase in incidence. The age specific incidence rate was highest in males aged 85 years and over where it reached 230 per million and exceeded the rate for females by a ratio of 1.9:1. Age specific incidence rates for soft tissue sarcomas in females aged 45 to 59 years were slightly higher than those in males, due to the incidence of gynaecological sarcomas.