October 26, 2023

This picture shows an example of a sarcoma arising in soft tissue.
This picture shows an example of a sarcoma arising in soft tissue.

A sarcoma is a type of cancer that starts from cells normally found in bones, cartilage, muscle, fat, nerves, fibrous tissue, or blood vessels. Because these types of tissues are found throughout our body, this type of cancer can start almost anywhere. As a group sarcomas are rare compared to other types of cancer (such as carcinoma and lymphoma).

There are many different types of sarcomas and the behavior of the tumour depends on the specific type and tumour grade. For example, many well differentiated or low grade sarcomas rarely metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body and are cured by surgery alone. In contrast, high grade or undifferentiated sarcomas frequently metastasize and patients often require chemotherapy and radiation in addition to surgery.

Most types of sarcomas are named by adding the word ‘sarcoma’ to the end of the diagnosis. For example, a sarcoma made up of fat cells is called ‘liposarcoma’ while a tumour made up of muscle cells is called a ‘rhabdomyosarcoma’.

Examples of sarcomas include:

About this article

This article was written by doctors to help you read and understand your pathology report. Contact us if you have questions about this article or your pathology report. For a complete introduction to your pathology report, read this article.

Other helpful resources

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