Soft Tissue Sarcomas

Soft tissue sarcomas are malignant (cancerous) tumors that begin in the tissues that connect, support or surround the body's organs and structures. These are the body's soft tissues, and they include muscle, tendon, synovial tissue (around joints), fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves. Because soft tissue sarcomas affect tissue that is elastic and easily moved, a tumor may exist for a while before it is discovered, growing larger and pushing aside surrounding tissue.

  • Soft tissue sarcomas are rare, accounting for less than 1% of all new cancer cases per year and just 3% of all childhood tumors. In the United States, about 900 children and adolescents are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcomas each year.
  • Soft tissue sarcomas can develop almost anywhere in the body, but in children are most common in the arms, legs, chest and abdomen.
  • Doctors are not sure what causes soft tissue sarcomas, but a genetic link is suspected. Some inherited diseases, such as Li Fraumeni syndrome and neurofibromatosis type 1, increase the risk of developing a soft tissue sarcoma.

Types of soft tissue sarcomas

There are many types of soft tissue sarcomas, including:

How Dana-Farber/Boston Children's approaches soft tissue sarcomas

Children and teens with soft tissue sarcoma are treated through the Bone and Soft Tissue Tumor Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, which combines the expertise of Boston Children's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for world-class medical and surgical care of malignant bone and soft tissue tumors in children and teens.

  • We provide the full set of options that can be used to treat bone and soft tissue tumors, and our solid tumor treatment team can help you determine which option is best for your child.
  • Our pediatric oncologists have access to, and often lead, some of the most innovative clinical trials for soft tissue sarcomas.
  • Our surgeons have specialized expertise in complex surgeries, and our radiation oncologists have access to the newest radiation therapy techniques that may also be used in the care of a child with soft tissue sarcoma

Learn more about soft tissue sarcomas

Find in-depth information on soft tissue sarcoma on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's website, including details on soft-tissue sarcoma symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and research.