Sarcoma, Soft Tissue: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2017

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with soft-tissue sarcoma each year. You will read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

This year, about 12,390 people (6,890 men and 5,500 women) will be diagnosed with STS in the United States. In comparison, more than 100 times this many people are found to have benign tumors, such as lipomas.

An estimated 4,990 adults and children (2,670 males and 2,320 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 a 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 a 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. The overall 5-year survival rate for sarcoma is 64%.

  • About 70% of sarcomas are found as a localized sarcoma. The 5-year survival rate for people with localized sarcoma is 80%.

  • About 15% of sarcomas are found in a regional stage. The 5-year survival rate for people with regional stage sarcoma is 54%.

  • About 15% of sarcomas are found in a metastatic stage. The 5-year survival rate for people with 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 type of sarcoma, the size, where it is located, and how quickly the tumor cells are growing and dividing, called the grade. If the sarcoma is found at an early stage and has not spread from where it started, surgical 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 the survival rates for people with sarcoma are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. People should talk with their doctor if they have questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2017: Special Section – Rare Cancers in Adults, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Medical IllustrationsIt offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.