Sarcomas are cancers that arise from the cells that hold the body together. These could be cells related to muscles, nerves, bones, fat, tendons, cartilage, or other forms of “connective tissues”. There are hundreds of different kinds of sarcomas, which come from different kinds of cells.
Dr. George D. Demetri, MD
Director, Sarcoma and Bone Oncology Center
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School
The term soft tissue refers to tissues that connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body. Soft tissue includes muscles, tendons (bands of fiber that connect muscles to bones), fibrous tissues, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and synovial tissues (tissues around joints).
Malignant (cancerous) tumors that develop in soft tissue are called sarcomas, a term that comes from a Greek word meaning “fleshy growth.” There are many different kinds of soft tissue sarcomas. They are grouped together because they share certain microscopic characteristics, produce similar symptoms, and are generally treated in similar ways. (Bone tumors [osteosarcomas] are also called sarcomas, but are in a separate category because they have different clinical and microscopic characteristics and are treated differently.)
Non-Soft Tissue Sarcomas - The most common type of bone cancer is osteosarcoma, which develops in new tissue in growing bones. Another type of cancer, chondrosarcoma, arises in cartilage. Evidence suggests that Ewing’s sarcoma, another form of bone cancer, begins in immature nerve tissue in bone marrow. Osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma tend to occur more frequently in children and adolescents, while chondrosarcoma occurs more often in adults.
Sarcomas can invade surrounding tissue and can metastasize (spread) to other organs of the body, forming secondary tumors. The cells of secondary tumors are similar to those of the primary (original) cancer. Secondary tumors are referred to as “metastatic sarcoma” because they are part of the same cancer and are not a new disease.
The Sarcoma Foundation of America has attempted to create location for patients, caregivers, and health care professionals to quickly learn about a particular sub-type of sarcoma. The number of subtypes of sarcomas is often debated. We have attempted to create a list that encompasses most of the sarcoma subtypes.
We hope this list will be a living document, and we will make every attempt to update it as new treatments and therapies become available for each subtype. Subtypes that cannot be accessed are currently under construction and will have extended information posted shortly. Please check back soon!
Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma (ASPS)
Gastrointerstinal Stromal Tumor (GIST)
Malignant Fibro Histiocytoma (MFH)
Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor (MPNST)
Information on sarcoma subtypes, treatments, clinical trials, and other important resources for sarcoma patients and families.
Information on the Sarcoma Patient Registry. If you are diagnosed with sarcoma, please consider joining the Registry.
Information on applying for a sarcoma research grant, current research funded by the SFA, and past research grants.