Sarcoma - Alveolar Soft Part and Cardiac: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2013

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

People with ASPS or cardiac sarcoma may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with these types of tumors do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your doctor.

Symptoms of ASPS may include:

  • A painless mass (growth) in the leg or buttock, or sometimes on the face or neck
  • Pain or soreness in the area of the mass caused by the tumor pushing on nerves or muscles
  • Limping or other problems with the legs or feet
  • Stiffness in the area with the tumor or not being able to move the limb (leg or arm) well

With cardiac sarcoma, symptoms depend on where the tumor is located. A tumor can be inside the heart’s chambers, in the muscles of the heart, or on the outside of the heart. If the tumor is inside the heart, it can block the flow of blood to produce these symptoms:

  • Swelling of the feet, legs, ankles, or abdomen
  • Distention (stretching) of neck veins (because the blood returning to the heart after traveling through the body is not able to easily enter or be pumped out of the right atrium, one of the chambers of the heart)

Cardiac sarcoma that occurs in the pericardium (the membrane outside of the heart) can cause swelling in the pericardial sac. This interferes with the heart’s ability to pump blood. Symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations (forced or irregular heart beat)

Because the heart pumps blood into the rest of the body, emboli (fragments of the tumor) may break away from the main tumor and travel throughout the body. The fragments can lodge in other organs or block blood flow to an organ or other body part. If this happens, symptoms depend on which organ(s) is blocked and may include:

  • Difficulty breathing (if the tumor fragment is in the lungs)
  • Stroke (if the brain is affected)
  • Damage to other organs and body parts

Other symptoms of cardiac sarcoma may include:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling unwell
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Upper body congestion

Your doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.

If sarcoma is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of your care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

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