Soft-tissue sarcomas are cancerous tumors that being in tissues that connect, support or surround organs and other body tissue—muscle, tendon, synovial tissue (around joints), fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, and nerves. They can develop almost anywhere in the body, but in children are most common in the arms, legs and trunk (chest and abdomen).
While the cause of soft-tissue sarcomas is not well understood, genetics may play a role in these diseases. Some inherited diseases, such as Li Fraumeni syndrome and neurofibromatosis type 1, increase the risk.
Patients with soft-tissue sarcomas are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Bone & Soft Tissue Program. Continue reading to learn more about soft-tissue sarcomas or visit the Bone & Soft Tissue Program homepage to learn about our expertise.
There are many different types of soft-tissue sarcomas, including:
Soft-tissue sarcomas affect tissue that is elastic and easily moved, which means that a tumor may exist for a long time before being discovered, growing larger and pushing aside surrounding tissue.
While each disease has its own specific symptoms, the most common symptoms of soft-tissue sarcoma include:
The diagnostic procedures used to determine the exact type of soft-tissue sarcoma a child has, and whether it has spread, include:
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
Treatment for soft-tissue sarcomas depends on the type of tumor a child has. It may involve a combination of:
Depending on the type of tumor, treatment for recurrent or progressive disease may include watchful waiting, surgery followed by radiation therapy, or a combination of chemotherapy drugs. Treatment decisions are based on the site of the recurrence, prior therapies, and individual patient considerations.
If a child has a progressive or recurrent tumor, he/she may be eligible for a number of experimental therapies available through the Children’s Oncology Group. The prognosis for progressive or recurrent soft-tissue sarcomas is poor.
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Katherine Janeway, MD, talks about caring for children with solid tumors. She is always inspired by the resilience of children with cancer, and their families.