Sarcomas Cancer



Sarcoma is the collective name for a relatively rare, yet heterogeneous group of cancers, that affects tissues like the bones, muscles, cartilage, blood vessels and tendons. Sarcomas can be broadly divided into two types: soft tissue Sarcoma and bone Sarcoma or osteosarcoma. The most common type among the two is soft tissue Sarcoma. It develops in the soft tissues of the body, usually the muscles or blood vessels.

(Jilong Yang, 2021)

Types of Sarcoma

There are currently over 50 Sarcoma subtypes described based on this group of malignant cancers. The most common subtypes of Sarcoma include:


Develops in cells that form bones

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)

Develops in the skin

Fibrosarcoma (fibroblastic Sarcoma)

Develops in fibrous tissue


Develops in cartilage

Ewing's Sarcoma

Develops in the bone cells or immature soft tissue


Affects the skeletal muscles


Develops in fatty tissue

Synovial Sarcoma

Develops near the tendons and joints

Pleomorphic Sarcoma

Develops in soft tissues of the abdomen, arms and legs

Gastrointestinal stromal tumor

Develops in cells that line the gastrointestinal tract

Kaposi's Sarcoma

Develops in the cells lining the lymph or blood vessels


Develops in the muscles of organs in the pelvis and abdomen region


Develops in the inner lining of blood vessels

Risk Factors

Following are the several risk factors that are said to increase the risk of Sarcoma

Exposure to chemical agents

Industrial chemicals such as vinyl chloride, used in PVC manufacturing, certain herbicides, etc., were found to increase the risk of Sarcoma of the liver upon continuous exposure.

Exposure to the virus

The human herpesvirus (HHV-8) is found to be a potential cause for Kaposi's Sarcoma in individuals with weakened immune systems.

Exposure to Alkylating agents

Alkylating agents found in cancer chemotherapeutics tend to be carcinogenic to normal cells.

Random Genetic mutations-

Random genetic mutation in mesenchymal cells is associated with most soft tissue Sarcomas.

Inherited genetic syndromes

Genetic syndromes like Li-Fraumeni syndrome and Paget's disease of bone pose potential risk of developing Sarcoma of the bone. Neurofibrosarcomas can develop in people with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder of the nervous system.

Signs & symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of Sarcomas include:

Swelling or soft lump that can be felt through the skin, which might be painful or painless

Pain in the bone without any swelling in case of bone Sarcoma

Abdominal pain

Presence of bloodstains in stool point to the possibility of Gastrointestinal stromal tumor. (Mayo Clinic, 2021)


A combination of clinical examination and imaging techniques are used for diagnosing and confirming Sarcoma.

Imaging tests : To evaluate the area of concern, your doctor might employ:

  • X-rays, Computerized tomography (CT) scans, Magnetic resonance imaging and Positron emission tomography

Biopsy : If a soft tissue sarcoma is suspected, you doctor will select the best biopsy technique to ensure proper surgical treatment and planning. Options include:

  • Core needle biopsy. Tiny tubes of tumor material can be obtained by this method. Doctors typically try to take samples from several sections of the tumor.
  • Surgical biopsy. In some cases, your doctor might suggest surgery to obtain a larger sample of tissue or to simply remove a small tumor entirely.

The pathologist also analyses the sample to understand the type of cancer and to determine whether the cancer is aggressive .

(Cancer.Net, 2021)