Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Symptoms, Signs and Causes

Soft tissue sarcoma, a rare cancer, may present as painless lumps or swelling. Symptoms are not presented in the early stages. Causes include genetic factors and radiation therapy. Early detection improves treatment outcomes.

What are the Soft Tissue Sarcoma Signs and Symptoms?

Patients may have soft tissue sarcoma signs based on the tumor size and location. Some of the soft tissue sarcoma cancer symptoms include:

What Does Soft Tissue Sarcoma Look Like?

Soft tissue sarcoma is not an easily recognizable condition due to non-specific symptoms. Advanced diagnostic techniques, such as MRI, CT scans, or biopsy, are required for diagnosing soft tissue sarcoma. Soft tissue sarcoma cancer symptoms, such as lumps, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and tarry stools, are also the symptoms of various other conditions. The doctor should evaluate any new lump or rapid change in the size of the pre-existing lump. The appearance of the soft tissue sarcoma lump varies depending on the specific type of soft tissue sarcoma.

What are Soft Tissue Sarcoma Causes?

Several patients inquire about what causes sarcoma cancer. Some of the soft tissue sarcoma causes include:

Inherited (genetic) disorders

While most soft tissue sarcomas are not directly associated with inherited or genetic disorders, certain genetic conditions increase the risk of developing these tumors and serve as possible soft tissue sarcoma causes. The following are the genetic disorders that are associated with the possible development of soft tissue sarcoma:

A History of Radiation Therapy

History of radiation therapy is also one of the possible soft tissue sarcoma causes. The risk of soft tissue sarcoma is higher in patients who have undergone radiation therapy, especially at a younger age.

Having Lymphedema in Arms or Legs

Lymphedema is a condition that involves the accumulation of fluid in the tissues, resulting in swelling. Patients suffering from chronic lymphedema, which is caused by surgical removal of the lymph nodes or radiation therapy to the lymph nodes, are at higher risk of developing soft tissue sarcoma.

Chemical Exposure

Exposure to certain chemicals is also one of the possible soft tissue sarcoma causes. These chemicals include dioxins, chlorophenols, phenoxy herbicides, and vinyl chloride.


Patients with HIV infections are at higher risk of developing several types of cancer, including soft tissue sarcoma. It is mainly due to the compromised immune system in such patients.

When to See an Oncologist?

Patients should not ignore soft tissue sarcoma cancer symptoms, such as lumps, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and blood in stools. Consult an oncologist if the patients experience these or additional symptoms that cause concern.


The soft tissue sarcoma signs include painful or painless lumps, nausea and vomiting, unintended weight loss, and black and tarry stools. The possible soft tissue sarcoma causes include genetic disorders, a history of radiation therapy, underlying medical conditions such as HIV and lymphedema, and exposure to chemicals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Different subtypes of soft tissue sarcoma have different rates of growth. Some are aggressive, while others are slow-growing.

Soft tissue sarcomas can occur anywhere in the body but are most commonly found in the legs, arms, and trunk. Other common locations include the abdomen, head, and neck regions.

Soft tissue sarcoma does not cause symptoms in the early stages. The symptoms are more pronounced in advanced stages. The period of symptom presentation depends on the soft tissue sarcoma subtypes.

Unexplained weight loss, a painful or painless fast-growing lump, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and blood in stools are the red flags for soft tissue sarcoma.

Exposure to certain chemicals and a history of radiation therapy may increase the risk of soft tissue sarcoma.