Cancers that occur in the connective tissue of the body, such as muscle, fat, and fibrous tissue are usually considered soft tissue sarcomas. The most common soft tissue sarcoma in children is rhabdomyosarcoma. Another common sarcoma of childhood, Ewing sarcoma, can occur in bone and/or soft tissue.
There are also more than 50 other types of soft tissue tumors diagnosed in about 900 children and adolescents each year:
- Synovial sarcoma
- Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor
- Desmoplastic round cell tumor
- Desmoid tumors
- Rhabdoid tumors
- Epithelioid sarcoma
- Alveolar soft part sarcoma
- Undifferentiated Sarcoma
Symptoms of soft tissue sarcomas vary based on their location. For example, tumors in the arm or leg can cause a lump, swelling around a joint, or pain. Because sarcomas are so rare, it is important that patients receive treatment at medical centers that specialize in children’s and adolescent cancers. This will help to ensure a biopsy is taken which will not affect treatment while providing the necessary tissue to confirm the diagnosis.
The most common risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma are a condition called neurofibromatosis or being from a family with Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Children with these conditions are more at risk for rhabdomyosarcoma, but account for only a small fraction of cases. These syndromes usually require medical care, so you would know if your child had one of them.