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What is synovial sarcoma?

Synovial sarcoma is a malignant tumor of the soft tissues, usually around joints. Under the microscope the tumor resembles synovial tissue (the lining tissue of joints). Synovial tissue is found around the tendons (bands of fiber that connect muscle to bone) and can form bursa (fluid filled cushioning pouches or sacs found in spaces between tendons, ligaments, and bones) found in the area of joints.

Synovial sarcoma tends to occur in adolescents and young adults, and it affects more males than females; the most common location is the thigh near the knee, but synovial sarcoma can also occur near other joints, mainly in the arms and legs — it seldom arises within a joint. Synovial sarcoma can spread to other areas of the body, particularly to involve regional lymph nodes. Spreading to distant body tissues occurs in about half of all cases, usually months to years after the initial diagnosis is made, although they are at times present at diagnosis.

Synovial sarcoma is a rare tumor. It is one of many types of cancer classified as a soft tissue sarcoma, cancer that originates in soft tissue, which includes fat, muscles, tendons, nerves, synovial tissue, blood vessels, and other fibrous tissue. As a group, soft tissue sarcomas account for less than 1 percent of all new cancer cases each year. In the United States, approximately 900 children and adolescent.

How we care for synovial sarcoma

Children diagnosed with synovial sarcoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program. Our integrated pediatric oncology service offers — in one specialized program — the combined expertise of a leading cancer center and a world-renowned children’s hospital. 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 even lead, the most innovative clinical trials for synovial sarcoma. Our surgeons have specialized expertise in complex surgeries, including limb-salvage surgery and rotationplasty, which may be used to treat synovial sarcoma. Our radiation oncologists have access to the newest radiation therapy techniques that may also be used in the care of a child with synovial sarcoma.

Our areas of research for synovial sarcoma

Researchers at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's are conducting numerous research studies that will help clinicians better understand and treat soft tissue sarcomas.

Other types of treatment currently being studied include:

  • angiogenesis inhibitors
  • biological therapies
  • neoadjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy

Synovial Sarcoma | Programs & Services