Soft tissue sarcomas are a rare group of cancers that develop in soft tissue. They can develop almost anywhere in your body, including in your hip, thigh, and groin.

Soft tissue sarcomas are rare overall, with about 13,400 new cases estimated in the United States by the end of 2023.

According to the American Cancer Society, experts have found more than 50 types of soft tissue sarcomas. They can develop in tissues such as:

  • muscle
  • fat
  • blood vessels
  • nerves
  • fascia
  • deep layers of your skin
  • tendons and ligament

Soft tissue sarcomas most commonly develop in the arms and legs. They can develop anywhere in the leg but occur most often in the upper leg.

Read on to learn more about soft tissue sarcomas of the hip, including the symptoms, some treatment options, and the outlook for people with this type of cancer.

Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in tissue around your hip, such as muscle or fat or in the tissue that makes up your hip joint.

According to a 2022 study that used data from the Iran National Cancer Registry, almost 50–60% of soft tissue sarcomas develop in the arms or legs. About 44% of soft tissue sarcomas that develop in limbs occur in the thigh.

The researchers behind the 2022 study also found that 75% of soft tissue sarcomas in the extremities were located in the legs and that 33% were located in the thighs.

Types of soft tissue sarcomas

Some of the types of soft tissue sarcomas that may develop in the tissue around your hip include:

  • Liposarcoma: Liposarcoma develops in fat cells and makes up less than 20% of soft tissue sarcomas in the United States. In a 2022 study, researchers found that liposarcoma made up 22% of hip or lower limb soft tissue sarcomas.
  • Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma: Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma is an aggressive cancer that affects about 0.8 to 10 people per million.
  • Synovial sarcoma: Synovial sarcoma affects about 1.77 people per million in the United States and can develop anywhere in your body. It can form in different types of soft tissue, such as muscle or ligaments, and it’s most common in the arms, legs, and feet or near joints.
  • Adult fibrosarcoma: Adult fibrosarcoma is an aggressive cancer that usually develops in the legs, trunk, or arms of people ages 20–60 years. It usually originates from fascia or tendons.
  • Alveolar soft-part sarcoma: Alveolar soft-part sarcoma is a rare cancer that usually affects young adults. It typically starts in the legs.

Learn more about the types of soft tissue sarcomas.

Soft tissue sarcomas can cause symptoms such as:

  • swelling under your skin
  • a painless lump that doesn’t move
  • pain as the lump grows larger
  • pins and needles in your leg, which may indicate nerve compression

In a 2020 case report, researchers reported that a 17-year-old female with a rare synovial sarcoma inside her hip joint developed progressive right hip pain and limping without a history of injury.

In a 2023 case study, researchers reported a 42-year-old male with the same rare tumor. He had hip pain for 7 years that progressed to the point that he was walking with a cane.

A doctor will begin the diagnostic process by asking you about your personal and family medical history. They’ll also ask you about your symptoms and perform a physical exam.

Imaging tests can help doctors see your tumor and its extent. Imaging tests include:

If imaging suggests the presence of a soft tissue sarcoma or another type of cancer, a doctor will perform a biopsy. A biopsy involves taking a small tissue sample so that an expert can analyze the cells under a microscope to confirm whether it’s sarcoma and, if so, the type of sarcoma.

The main treatment for soft tissue sarcoma limited to one tumor is surgery. Surgery usually involves removing the entire tumor along with some healthy tissue around it. If there’s evidence of cancer around the edges of the removed tissue, you may need to have surgery again to remove more tissue.

If your cancer has already spread to surrounding tissue, you may need radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or both before surgery to shrink the tumor. Radiation therapy may also be necessary after surgery to kill any cells left behind.

Metastatic soft tissue sarcomas that have spread to distant body parts are rarely curable. For these cancers, you may receive newer treatments, like immunotherapy or targeted therapy drugs.

The outlook for people with soft tissue sarcomas varies widely between the subtypes. Overall, people with soft tissue sarcomas in the United States in 2010–2016 were about 65% as likely as people without soft tissue sarcomas to live at least 5 years.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, soft tissue sarcomas that start in the legs, arms, or surface of the trunk or body tend to have a better outlook than cancers that start in other parts of your body.

Learn more about soft tissue sarcoma survival rates.

Soft tissue sarcomas are a group of cancers that can develop almost anywhere in your body. The lower body is one of the most common locations for them to develop.

If a doctor diagnoses your cancer early, they may be able to treat it with surgery alone. More advanced cancers may need additional treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy.