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Recognizing the Symptoms of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Jul 01, 2023

Recognizing the Symptoms of Soft Tissue Sarcoma
The symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma vary considerably as there are over 50 different types of the cancer. Being aware of the possible symptoms helps you detect sarcoma cancer early and improves your chances of successful treatment.

You have many soft tissues in your body: Muscle tissue, lymph vessels, blood vessels, nerves, and fat all support other structures in your body including each other. These are your soft tissues. 

While you may be more aware of cancers that affect specific organs like your brain or liver, cancer can grow in your soft tissues too. Soft tissue sarcoma is the term for any cancer that originates in your soft tissues, and there are over 50 different types. It can develop almost anywhere in your body where these soft tissues exist, but the most common areas for soft tissue sarcoma are the limbs and midsection. 

At Arizona Center for Cancer Care, we provide innovative treatment and ongoing support for patients in Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Anthem, Peoria, Fountain Hills, Wickenburg, Apache Junction, Sun City, Sun City West, Goodyear, and Tempe, Arizona.

Our board-certified oncologists are dedicated to finding cancers of all types in their earliest stages to produce the best possible outcomes for our patients. Although many cancers like sarcoma don’t cause any symptoms in their earliest stages, you can take the initiative by familiarizing yourself with the most common signs and symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma. 

As sarcoma grows, symptoms increase

In the early stages of your sarcoma, you probably won’t notice any differences from how you usually feel. Sarcoma isn’t like skin cancer where you can see a new lesion or changes in an existing mole: Since it’s under your skin or possibly deep in your tissues, there really isn’t anything you can look for on the surface. 

Over time, you might see or feel a lump. Almost half of all soft tissue sarcoma originates in an arm or leg, and lumps in the soft tissue eventually become noticeable in these areas. You might assume these lumps to be painful or tender, but they rarely are.

Soft tissue sarcoma in the abdominal region is another story. A lump grows, but you may not feel it like you would in an arm or a leg. As its size increases, it can press on nearby organs to cause blockages, or you might feel pain or discomfort as it compresses nerves. 

Call any of our offices if you notice:

  • A lump in an arm or leg
  • Pain or tenderness in your abdomen
  • Black or bloody stool
  • Bloody vomit

Sarcoma cancers are far from the only conditions that cause such symptoms, but a professional evaluation is always advised. 

Are you at risk?

Taking inventory of your risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma helps you stay aware of this type of cancer and possibly take steps to mitigate your risk. While soft tissue sarcomas and other cancers aren’t always preventable or linked to known risk factors, here are a few factors that increase your likelihood of developing them:

Chemical exposures

Several different chemicals may increase the risk of soft tissue sarcomas, among them vinyl chloride and phenoxyacetic acid, though more research is needed for confirmation. 

Radiation exposure

Radiation therapy is a treatment for various cancers, but it may leave you with a higher risk of soft tissue sarcoma in the future. It can damage your lymphatic system, leading to lymphedema (swelling) for some people. Rarely, this lymphatic system damage can also result in sarcoma cancer. 

Having a family history of soft tissue sarcoma of any kind may also put you at a higher risk than the average person. 

Visit any of our offices to learn more

Arizona Center for Cancer Care provides the detailed testing necessary to detect and stage soft tissue sarcomas. If you have any symptoms, call your nearest ACCC office or request an appointment online right away.