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Types of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Sarcoma is the name given to cancers that begin in the bone, muscle, fat, nerves or connective tissue. Soft tissue sarcomas are extremely rare, accounting for less than 11,000 diagnosed new cases each year.

Types of soft tissue sarcomas include:

Alveolar Soft-Part Sarcoma

Alveolar soft-part sarcoma typically occurs in female adolescents and young adults, and is found in the extremities and can metastasize to the lung or other locations.

Clear Cell Sarcoma

Clear cell sarcoma is a soft tissue sarcoma that develops in the soft tissues or dermis of the body. Clear cell sarcomas may grow attached to tendons in the limbs.

Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans starts as a tumor under the skin, but can progress to protrude outside of the skin, and is characterized as being dark red or violet in color.

Epithelioid Sarcoma

Epithelioid sarcomas typically occur in the hand or foot of young adults. They appear like small nodules, which sometimes merge together.


Fibrosarcoma is a sarcoma in which the predominant cell type is a malignant fibroblast.

Ewing Sarcoma

Ewing sarcoma is commonly found in young adults, under the age of 25. These usually arise in bone and are rarely found in soft tissue.

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are a type of soft tissue tumor. GISTs are very rare tumors that start in special cells in the wall of the GI tract, called the interstitial cells of cajal. These cells, often called the “pacemaker cells,” regulate body processes like digestion and send signals to the muscles within the gastrointestinal tract to expand and contract, moving food and liquid through the digestive system.

GISTs can occur anywhere within the digestive tract, but are found most frequently in the stomach or small intestine.

Kaposi’s Sarcoma

Kaposi's sarcoma is a disease in which cancerous cells are found in the tissues under the skin or mucous membranes that line the mouth, nose and anus. Kaposi’s sarcomas are typically found in older men of Jewish, Italian or Mediterranean heritage, people who have received an organ transplant, and take immune-suppressive drugs, and people with AIDS.


Leiomyosarcomas are sarcomas of the smooth muscles, developing in organs within the body.


Liposarcomas develop in the deep, fatty tissues of the body. Liposarcomas can be large, with satellite tumors that arise nearby. There are several different subtypes.

Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor/Neurofibrosarcoma

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor, or neurofibrosarcoma, is a sarcoma that develops in the connective tissue around the nerves.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS)

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma found in children. RMS can develop in adults, but this is rare.

Learn more about treatment of RMS in children at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Synovial Cell Sarcoma

Synovial cell sarcoma is a soft tissue sarcoma that usually occurs near the joints of the arms, neck or legs.

Undifferentiated Pleomorphic Sarcoma (UPS)/Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma (MFH)

Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS), or malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) is a type of sarcoma found in the bone or soft tissue.

As the name implies, UPS does not bear any resemblance to normal tissue, and UPS is considered the most common soft tissue sarcoma of late adult life.

Uterine Sarcoma

Uterine sarcoma is cancer of the smooth muscles of the uterus. Uterine sarcoma most often occurs in women after menopause.

Vascular Sarcomas

Vascular sarcomas contain their own blood vessels. They are very rare, and can be found on the hands, on the skin, organs such as the breast, liver or heart, or on the thigh.