Sarcoma and Soft Tissue Tumors

Joshua Ellenhorn, M.D., FACS

Board Certified General Surgeon & Surgical Oncologist located in CEDARS SINAI MEDICAL TOWERS, LOS ANGELES, CA

Sarcoma and Soft Tissue Tumors

What are sarcoma and soft tissue tumors?

Soft tissue tumors refer to the general category of tumors beginning in muscle, fat and the connective tissues of the body. They can be Noncancerous or cancerous tumors. Noncancerous soft tissue tumors are extremely common. These include things like lipoma which is an accumulation of normal fat cells growing as a lump. When soft tissue tumors are malignant they are known as sarcomas. Sarcomas generally grow as firm lumps which often displace surrounding structures. Unlike benign soft tissue tumors, sarcomas have the ability to spread. Malignant soft tissue tumors occasionally spread through the bloodstream to the lungs.

How our sarcoma and soft tissue tumors diagnosed?

Most benign soft tissue tumors can be diagnosed on physical exam. This is true for common tumors like lipoma. Malignant soft tissue tumors generally require a needle biopsy for diagnosis but the appearance of a tumor on a CAT scan or an MRI can also help to make the diagnosis.

How our sarcoma and soft tissue tumors treated?

The primary treatment for sarcoma and soft tissue tumors is surgical removal. For benign soft tissue tumors like lipomas, this can be often be accomplished using an office procedure under local anesthetic. For larger tumors and sarcomas, surgical resection often requires a more extensive procedure which needs to be done with the patient asleep in the operating room.

Sarcomas often require additional treatment in the form of radiation therapy after surgery. Chemotherapy is somewhat less effective for sarcomas and is generally reserved for those tumors that have spread and are unable to be surgically removed.