A Sarcoma is an abnormal growth of Cancer cells that can originate in any tissues in the body.  For a cell to go from being a fully functioning cell to being cancerous there needs to be a change in their DNA, causing the cells to multiply and overtake the space of healthy tissue.  The type of cell with DNA changes occurring is what determines the type of Soft Tissue Sarcoma. They mostly affect the arms, legs and belly, although there are many places a Sarcoma can start from. There are a variety of names for them, depending on where they are situated. For example, Angiosarcoma begins in cells in the lining of blood vessels, while Liposarcoma starts in fat cells.  Some types of Soft Tissue Sarcoma include:

  • Angiosarcoma.
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans.
  • Epithelioid Sarcoma
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST).
  • Kaposi’s Sarcoma.
  • Leiomyosarcoma.
  • Liposarcoma.
  • Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumour.
  • Myxofibrosarcoma.
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma.
  • Solitary Fibrous Tumour.
  • Synovial Sarcoma.
  • Undifferentiated Pleomorphic Sarcoma.


The most common symptom of a Sarcoma is a lump, anywhere on the body. It is not usually painful to begin with but is often hard when palpated and difficult to move under the skin.  As the cells continue to multiply the growth becomes more noticeable and this is when it starts to cause pain. Depending on where it is situated it will affect the function of that area, for example, if it is in the lungs, it will likely produce a cough and possibly shortness of breath.  If it is in the abdominal area it may interfere with how the bowels work, by causing constipation.

What to do if you find a possible Sarcoma

The first port of call whenever a person finds a lump, is to visit their GP, who will then determine whether the lump is suspicious of a Cancer growth. There are other lumps that can be found under the skin called cysts, which are not cancerous and are easily removed by minor surgery, so it is always good to know as early as possible, to avoid worry and get immediate treatment. If a Sarcoma is suspected the GP will order investigations, usually involving scans and MRI’s and sometimes genetic testing to see if there are changes in the genes.

Treatment options for a Sarcoma

Once diagnosed with a Sarcoma it is usual for the specialist to consider surgery to remove the growth, if this is feasible and will not damage the nearby tissues causing further health issues. Surgery may be carried out with additional radiation, either before or after, to reduce the risk of further cancerous growths. In some instances, it may be necessary to give Chemotherapy or targeted medicines after surgery and Radiotherapy if there is a risk that there are still some Cancer cells in the body.  Throughout this process a person is allocated a Specialist Nurse as a point of contact, to explain all the procedures and treatments as they progress.

Sometimes it is not possible to remove the Sarcoma due to its positioning and it may be that the surgeon determines there is no cure, at which time a programme of ongoing treatment, Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy or targeted medicines may be suggested to keep the cells contained and to slow the growth, so as it does not affect the adjacent tissues.

For more information on Sarcoma’s including possible risk factors and causes, Cancer Research UK has further details on their website: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/soft-tissue-sarcoma or visit Sarcoma UK at:  https://sarcoma.org.uk/