Signs of Soft Tissue Sarcoma You Should Never Ignore

Is it just a bruise, or could it be a kind of cancer called soft tissue sarcoma?

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Soft tissue sarcoma is a type of cancer that forms from soft tissues — like your muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels — which connect and support other tissues in the body.

Soft tissue sarcoma is not common, but anyone can get it — and it can disguise itself as other not-so-serious health conditions. Knowing the risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma as well as the most common red-flag symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma can help you find it early. Then, you can start exploring your STS treatment options.

What are symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma?

If someone notices a lump on their leg or hip, their first thought isn’t usually cancer. “People think that it may be a bruise, or trauma related. Some people think it may be an infection, other people may think it’s a cyst, or fatty growth called a lipoma,” says Richard Bakst, MD, a Radiation Oncologist at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The majority of soft tissue sarcomas develop in the arm or the leg. Soft tissue sarcoma often presents as a mass (it can be as large as golf ball-sized; approximately 5 cm), and more often than not, is painless. If the lump does cause pain, it’s likely because it’s begun to press on nearby organs.

“It’s not that pain alerts them to that part of the body. If [they] notice something either in the mirror or the shower, and they follow that over time and notice that it’s [getting] slightly bigger, that usually prompts a doctor’s visit,” says Dr. Bakst.

What are signs of retroperitoneum sarcomas?

Between 10 and 20% of sarcomas develop in a region of the abdomen. These are called retroperitoneum sarcomas.

 “Patients with retroperitoneal sarcomas may have different symptoms, such as bloating, abdominal pain, changes in their bowl patterns, and changes in their urinary patterns,” says Dr. Bakst. This is because the cancer mass may grow and start pushing on the colon or stomach.

“If there’s any concern about growth or new things that develop, presenting it to the primary care physician at that time is always wise, so that a diagnosis could be established for whatever the lump to the bump may be … sooner, rather than later,” says Dr. Bakst.