Soft tissue sarcomas are a group of rare cancers that develop in soft tissues, such as muscle, fat, or nerves. They can develop in almost any part of your body.
The American Cancer Society estimates that about
- arms and legs: 60%
- trunk: 19%
- area behind the abdominal cavity (retroperitoneum): 15%
- head and neck: 9%
In this article, we examine the most frequently diagnosed types of soft tissue sarcomas, including how common they are, where they develop, and the outlook for people who have them.
Leiomyosarcoma and liposarcoma are the
In the United States, based on data collected from 2015–2019, the rate of new cases of soft tissue sarcoma was about
Leiomyosarcoma arises from smooth muscle cells, which control involuntary actions, such as moving food through your digestive tract. It can develop almost anywhere in your body but
Leiomyosarcoma is most common in adults over age 60 years.
Leiomyosarcoma of the uterus
Leiomyosarcoma survival rates
Leiomyosarcoma tends to be aggressive, but people who have it usually have a better outlook when it develops in one of their limbs instead of inside their abdomen.
A 2021 study found that the 10-year disease-specific survival was
The 5-year survival rate ranges from about
In the United States, people with leiomyosarcoma diagnosed in 2012–2018 had a 5-year relative survival rate of about
The 5-year relative survival rate is a measure of how many people with the cancer are alive 5 years later compared to people without the cancer.
Data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program from 2001–2016 suggests that liposarcoma may affect about
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) start in special cells in the wall of your gastrointestinal tract called
Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) was previously known as malignant fibrous histiocytoma. It’s the fourth most common type of soft tissue sarcoma and occurs in anywhere from
UPS is an aggressive and fast-growing cancer. It typically starts as a rapidly growing tumor on or below your skin without causing changes to the surface of your skin. It
The chances of developing UPS increase with age. It’s most common in people in their 60s or older. The 5- and 10-year overall survival rates have been reported as
Synovial sarcoma can develop anywhere in your body. It’s associated with a translocation between chromosomes X and 18. A translocation is when a chromosome breaks and the pieces reattach to another chromosome.
Rates of synovial sarcoma in the United States are estimated to be about
Other types of soft tissue sarcomas include:
- Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST): MPNSTs develop in the tissue that covers nerves outside of your brain and spinal cord. It’s extremely rare overall, but the lifetime risk is about
10%in people with a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 1.
- Fibroblastic sarcoma: Fibroblastic sarcoma is a very rare type of soft tissue sarcoma. It develops in cells that produce connective tissue. About
55%of people with fibroblastic sarcoma are alive 5 years after receiving a diagnosis.
- Kaposi sarcoma: Kaposi sarcoma starts in the cells that line your lymph and blood vessels. It most often occurs in people with immunosuppression, such as organ transplant recipients and people with stage 3 HIV.
- Rhabdomyosarcoma: Rhabdomyosarcoma is the
most commontype of soft tissue sarcoma in children. It develops in muscle tissue.
- Desmoplastic small round cell tumors: Desmoplastic small round cell tumors are extremely rare tumors that usually develop in adolescents and young adults. They usually develop in the abdomen.
Which types of soft tissue sarcomas are the most aggressive?
The 5-year relative survival rate of people with a diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma in the United States from 2010–2016 was
Researchers reported the lowest survival rate among people with synovial sarcoma and the second lowest in people with liposarcoma.
Soft tissue sarcoma is a group of cancers that develop in your body’s soft tissue. The three most common types are:
- gastrointestinal stromal tumors
These cancers develop in smooth muscle, fat cells, and cells that line your gastrointestinal tract, respectively.
The outlook for people with soft tissue sarcomas vary between subtypes. Liposarcomas and synovial sarcomas seem to be among the most aggressive subtypes.