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: Variation in pathological definition has made it difficult to obtain exact numbers of patients with sarcomas. Based on the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, approximately 15,000 new cases of sarcoma, both bone and soft tissue, are diagnosed in the United States on an annual basis. Primary soft tissue sarcoma survival by prognostic factors. A, survival by primary site based on 3677 patients evaluated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1982–2010. Two large Phase III studies were started in early 2001 in the United States, Canada, and Europe to assess survival, progression-free survival, and toxicity in locally advanced or metastatic GIST among patients randomized to receive 400 mg of imatinib once or twice a day. The United States study accrued 746 patients in just over 9 months.