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A soft tissue sarcoma is a growth of abnormal cells in the body's soft tissues. These tissues include the muscles, lymph and blood vessels, nerves, and fat. It can also include cartilage and other connective tissue. When cancer cells are found in the tissue, the tumour is called malignant.
Sarcoma is another name for a malignant soft tissue tumour. Sarcomas can spread to other parts of the body, like the lungs.
Some common types of soft tissue sarcomas in children include:
This is the most common type of soft tissue tumour in children. It forms in the muscle, usually in the arms, legs, or torso.
This is often found near joints, especially near the knee and ankle.
These tumours are made up of nerve cells.
This is often found in the torso and extremities. It's more common in very young children.
Other types of soft tissue tumours may appear on the skin, nerves, belly, and limbs.
Your child may feel a swelling or lump on his or her body. Usually there isn't any pain.
The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and past health and will examine your child. If the doctor can feel a lump or mass in the soft tissue, or if your child has other symptoms, your child will get some tests. The tests can help find out if it's cancer. They can also help the doctor figure out the best treatment for the tumour.
The doctor may also find a tumour when taking X-rays or images for another problem.
The doctor may talk to you about what "stage" your child's cancer is. The stage refers to how large the tumour is and how far it has spread. It also includes the tumour grade. The grade describes what the cancer cells look like and how likely they are to grow and spread.
These can help the doctor find out what type of treatment your child may need. And they may help to find a clinical trial that has treatments for your child's type of cancer.
The doctor will give you a detailed treatment plan. Your child's plan will depend on the type of cancer your child has, how far it has spread, and how quickly it is growing.
Your child may need surgery to remove cancer from the tissue.
Radiation therapy is often used for soft tissue cancers. It uses high-energy rays, such as X-rays, to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours in the body.
Your child may have chemotherapy (chemo). Chemo is medicine that destroys cancer cells. For advanced sarcomas, your child may also have targeted therapy. It uses medicines that target the cancer cells. And immunotherapy can help your child's immune system fight the cancer.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: December 19, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Andrea J. Evenski MD - & Thomas M. Bailey MD - Family Medicine
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