ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.
Sarcomas can start in any part of the body. The types of symptoms that people have from a sarcoma depend on where it starts. People with sarcoma may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with sarcoma do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer.
STS rarely causes symptoms in the early stages. The first sign of a sarcoma in an arm, leg, or torso may be a painless lump or swelling. Most lumps are not sarcoma. The most common soft-tissue lumps are lipomas. Lipomas are made of fat cells and are not cancer. Lipomas have often been there for many years and rarely change in size. In the uterus, benign tumors called fibroids (leiomyomas) far outnumber sarcomas, but sarcomas of the uterus are sometimes mistaken for benign fibroids.
However, it’s important to talk with your doctor about any lumps that are larger than 2 inches (5 centimeters), grow larger, or are painful, regardless of their location. People with a sarcoma that starts in the abdomen may not have any symptoms, or they may have pain or a sense of fullness.
Because sarcoma can develop in flexible, elastic tissues or deep spaces in the body, the tumor can often push normal tissue out of its way as it grows. Therefore, a sarcoma may grow quite large before it causes symptoms. Eventually, it may cause pain as the growing tumor begins to press against nerves and muscles.
Sarcomas that start in other parts of the body may cause other symptoms or signs. For example, sarcomas in the uterus can cause uterine bleeding or an increase in the size of the uterus. Tumors that start in the heart or a lung may cause breathing problems or pain in the chest.
If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.
If a sarcoma is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may be called palliative care or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.
The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.