Soft Tissue Sarcomas


Lead Author(s): 

William G. Ward, Sr., MD
David J. Sheedy, MPH
Elaine G. Russell, PhD, RN

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Soft tissue tumors, like bone tumors, are called sarcomas, and are encountered more frequently than bone and joints tumors. Soft tissue tumors originate in connective or non-glandular tissue and can develop in any part of the body that contains fat, muscle, nerve, blood vessels, fibrous tissues, and in any deep tissues, including tissues surrounding joints, bones, or deep subcutaneous tissues. More than half of soft tissue sarcomas develop in the arms or legs. About one in five (20%) are found in the abdominal cavity and present with symptoms similar to other abdominal-based health problems. The rest begin in the head and neck area or in and on the chest or abdomen (about 10% each).1 The differentiating feature of soft tissue tumors (sarcomas) is that they arise from the connective tissues rather than from gland forming organs such as kidneys, lungs, intestines, breasts, prostate, or thyroid glands.

There also are a vast number of non-malignant soft tissue neoplasms and tumors such as lipomas. In addition, typically included are cystic lesions of the deep tissues. Additional information on soft tissue sarcomas can be found in multiple sources such as Enzinger and Weiss’s Soft Tissue Tumors.2

The reader is referred to the data tables 6A.B.2.1 thru 6A.B.2.7 for a more robust appreciation of these tumors. These tables show the latest NCDB demographic and survivorship analyses of soft tissue cancers, providing additional understanding of the demographics, anatomic distribution, nature, treatment and prognosis of these sarcomas and their treatments and results.

  • 1. National Cancer Institute (NCI): Soft Tissue Sarcoma-Patient Version, Overview. Available at: . Accessed January 28, 2018. Editorial revisions provided by William G. Ward, MD.
  • 2. Weiss SW, Goldblum JR, Folpe AL. Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 5th ed., 2008. Mosby, Inc., an affiliate of Elsevier.


  • Fourth Edition

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