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Golisano Children's Hospital / Pediatric Hematology/Oncology / Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma

What is Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma?

Childhood soft tissue sarcoma is a disease in which cancer cells begin growing in the soft tissue in a child's body. The soft tissues connect, support and surround the body parts and organs, and include muscles, tendons, connective tissues, fat, blood vessels, nerves and synovial tissues (that surround the joints). Cancer develops as the result of abnormal cell growth within the soft tissues.

Types of Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma

There are many types of soft tissue sarcomas are classified according to the type of soft tissue they resemble. Types include:

Tumors of Fibrous (connective) Tissue

  • Desmoid tumor
  • Fibrosarcoma

Fibrohystiocytic Tumors

  • Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma

Fat Tissue Tumors

  • Liposarcoma

Smooth Muscle Tumors

  • Leiomyosarcoma

Blood and Lymph Vessel Tumors

  • Angiosarcoma
  • Hemangiopericytoma
  • Hemangioendothelioma

Synovial (joint) Tissue Sarcoma

  • Synovial sarcoma

Peripheral Nervous System Tumors

  • Malignant Schwannoma

Bone and Cartilage Tumors

  • Extraosseous Osteosarcoma
  • Extraosseous myxoid chondrosarcoma
  • Extraosseous mesenchymal chondrosarcoma

Combination Tissue Type Tumors

  • Malignant mesenchymoma

Tumors of Unknown Origin

  • Alveolar soft part sarcoma
  • Epitheloid sarcoma
  • Clear cell sarcoma

Risk Factors

Soft tissue sarcoma is more likely to develop in people who have the following risk factors:

  • Specific genetic conditions. Certain genetic syndromes, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, may put some people at a higher risk for developing this disease.
  • Radiation therapy. Children who have previously received radiation therapy are at a higher risk.
  • Virus. Children who have the Epstein-Barr virus as well as AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome are at a higher risk as well.

Common Symptoms

  • A solid lump or mass, usually in the trunk, arms or legs
  • Other symptoms depend upon the location of the tumor and if it is interfering with other bodily functions
  • Rarely causes fever, weight loss or night sweats

If your child has any of these symptoms, please see his/her doctor.

Diagnosing Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma

If symptoms are present, your child's doctor will complete a physical exam and will prescribe additional tests to find the cause of the symptoms. Tests may include chest x-rays, biopsy, CT (or CAT) scan and/or an MRI.

Once soft tissue sarcoma is found, additional tests will be performed to determine the stage (progress) of the cancer. Treatment will depend upon the type, location and stage of the disease.

Treatment Options

Once the diagnosis of cancer is confirmed, and the type and stage of the disease has been determined, your child's doctor will work with you, your child, and appropriate specialists to plan the best treatment. Current treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.