Soft tissue sarcoma facts:
- Soft tissue sarcoma is one of the rarest types of cancer. About 9,400 cases were expected in the United States in 2005, representing less than 1 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers.
- Soft tissue sarcoma is slightly more common in males (5,500 cases) than females (3,900 cases).
- About 3,500 Americans were expected to die of soft tissue sarcomas in the past year.
- The five-year survival rate (percentage of people who live at least five years after their cancer is diagnosed) is about 90 percent for people with soft tissue sarcomas that are found when they are small and have not spread. For patients with sarcomas that have spread (metastasized), the five-year survival rate is 10 percent to 15 percent. Advances in treatment in the past five years, however, may result in improved prospects for recently diagnosed patients.
Soft tissue sarcoma is the growth of abnormal cells that form a mass (tumor) in the body's soft tissues. These tissues include muscles, tendons, fat, blood vessels, nerves and joints – but not body parts such as the lungs, breasts or colon (which perform specific functions and are called organs). There are more than 50 kinds of soft tissue sarcomas, but more than half start in the arms or legs.
Because of advances in diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue sarcoma, a longer and better life is possible for patients today. Improved surgical techniques, chemotherapy and radiation therapy have substantially decreased the need for amputations. Correctly diagnosing soft tissue sarcoma can be difficult, but it is critical in order to prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Please use the links below to access comprehensive soft tissue sarcoma information provided by the National Cancer Institute from its PDQ® Database.
Learn more about adult soft tissue sarcoma...
Learn more about childhood soft tissue sarcoma...
Learn more about Kaposi's sarcoma...