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Slide Show - Understanding Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Sarcomas are cancers that arise in the connective tissues, which are cells that hold the body together. Connective tissues include: cartilage, tendons, fat, muscles, and the bones in the body. There are many different sub-types of sarcomas, because they can arise in different connective tissues. Although a lot of the lumps and bumps we get are benign, people should have them looked at by a doctor at an early stage in case it is sarcoma.
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*Please note: This slide show represents a visual interpretation and does not indicate clinical effectiveness. Please see your doctor for any medical conditions.
Sarcoma is a type of cancer that involves connective tissues.

The body's connective tissues include: blood vessels, bone, fat, joints, muscles, and nerves.

Sarcoma is rare in adults but more common in children.

Sarcoma is divided into bone tumors and soft tissue tumors.

There are between 50 to 100 “sub-types” of soft tissue sarcoma and they can arise anywhere in the body.

These may include tumors in:
  • Peripheral nerves
  • Fat tissue
  • Joint tissue
  • Blood and lymph vessels
  • Digestive system
  • Muscle and fibrous tissue
The most common location is the limbs followed by the chest and abdomen, and then the head and neck area.

The causes of sarcoma are thought to be linked to genes and/or environment (epigenetic factors).

It’s very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of sarcoma, but doctors and researchers believe it is related to “mutations” (changes) in special kinds of cells in the body.

In sarcoma, the cells no longer function correctly and start to have uncontrolled growth.
The cells keep growing and may become a tumor.
This is called a primary tumor. As it grows it can attract blood vessels to supply it with nutrients. This process is called “angiogenesis.”
Cells can “break away” from the primary tumor and travel into the bloodstream and/or lymphatic system.

These cells then spread to other parts of the body where they can become new sites for additional tumors.

This process is called “metastasis” or “cancer spread”.

Although a lot of the lumps and bumps in the body are often “benign” or not cancer, they should be checked early on to rule out sarcoma.