Symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcomas can start in any part of the body. The symptoms depend on the part of the body that is affected.

About symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcomas can start in any part of the body. The symptoms depend on the part of the body that is affected.

Often, soft tissue sarcomas do not cause any symptoms until they are quite large and pressing on an organ, nerve or muscle in the body.

The main symptom is a lump or swelling that is:

  • getting bigger
  • bigger than 5cm (2in) – about the size of a golf ball
  • painful or tender.

Most soft tissue lumps are not cancer. But if you notice any of these symptoms, get them checked by your GP.

Symptoms of a sarcoma in an arm or a leg

If there is a sarcoma in an arm or a leg, the most common symptom is an uncomfortable swelling in the affected limb.

Sometimes the swelling is painful or tender, but it may also be painless.

Symptoms of a sarcoma in the central part of the body

If there is a sarcoma in the central part of the body (the trunk), the symptoms depend on which of the body’s organs is affected. For example, you may:

  • have a cough and breathlessness if there is a sarcoma in a lung
  • have tummy (abdominal) pain, vomiting and constipation if there is a sarcoma in the tummy
  • vomit blood or have dark coloured poo if there is a gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) – this is because of bleeding in the bowel
  • have symptoms of a low number of red blood cells (anaemia), such as shortness of breath and tiredness if there is a GIST – this is also caused by bleeding in the bowel
  • bleeding from the vagina and pain in the lower part of the tummy if there is a sarcoma in the womb.

When to see your GP

The above symptoms may be caused by other conditions but it is very important to see your GP if you have any of them.

We have more information about the signs and symptoms of cancer.