What are soft tissue sarcomas?
Sarcomas are rare. About 2,300 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with a sarcoma. This includes bone sarcomas as well as soft tissue sarcomas.
Soft tissue sarcomas are cancers that develop from cells in the soft, supporting tissues of the body. They can occur in soft tissues such as fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels or in any of the other tissues that support, surround and protect the organs of the body.
Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in any part of the body. Most of them develop in the arms and legs, but they can also develop in specific organs such as the womb (uterus), stomach, skin and small bowel. Less commonly, they may occur in the head and neck.
Some types of sarcoma occur in children, teenagers and young adults, but generally they are more likely to develop in people over the age of 30.
You might find it helpful to see our information about sarcomas that's written specifically for teens and young adults.
Some sarcomas, such as osteosarcoma, start in the bone. These grow and develop differently and are treated differently from soft tissue sarcomas. Occasionally, it’s hard to tell whether a sarcoma has started in soft tissue or bone. There are some types of sarcoma, such as Ewing’s tumours that can begin in either the bone or soft tissue.
We have separate information about cancer that starts in the bone.