Sarcoma, Soft Tissue: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. You will also learn some general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu.

This year, approximately 12,310 people (6,980 men and 5,330 women) will be diagnosed with soft-tissue sarcoma in the United States. An estimated 4,990 adults and children (2,680 males and 2,310 females) are expected to die of the disease this year.

Sarcomas are described as being localized, regional, or metastatic when they are first found.

  • Localized means the tumor is only in 1 area of the body.

  • Regional means the tumor involves tissues in a localized area and there is also tumor in or attached to nearby tissues or organs.

  • Metastatic means the sarcoma has spread to parts of the body far away from where the sarcoma started.

When the sarcoma starts in an arm or leg, the 5-year survival rates are slightly higher for each stage when compared with sarcoma that starts in other locations.

This section includes information on how often sarcomas show up as localized, regional, or metastatic. In addition, there is information on survival rates for each situation. This information applies for sarcomas in general and may not apply to a specific type of sarcoma. Talk with your health care team for more information regarding your specific diagnosis.

In general, cancer statistics often include the 5-year survival rate for a type of cancer. The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100.

  • 56% of sarcomas are found as a localized sarcoma. The 5-year survival rate for people with localized sarcoma is 83%.

  • 19% of sarcomas are found in a regional stage. The 5-year survival rate for people with regional stage sarcoma is 54%.

  • 16% of sarcomas are found in a metastatic stage. The 5-year survival rate for people with a metastatic sarcoma is 16%.

It is important to note that the length of time a person lives with sarcoma depends on many factors, including the size of the tumor, where it is located, the type, how fast the tumor cells are growing and dividing, and whether it is deep (not just below the skin). If the sarcoma is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread from where it started, treatment is often very effective and many people are cured. On the other hand, if the sarcoma has spread to other parts of the body, treatment can usually control the tumor, but it is not often curable. Learn more in the Stages and Grades section.

It is important to remember that statistics on how many people survive this type of cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from information from thousands of people with this cancer in the United States each year. So, your own risk may be different. Doctors cannot say for sure how long anyone will live with sarcoma. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. This means that the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2016, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. Or, use the menu on the left side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.