Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) is the name given to a varied group of malignant tumours (cancer) which originate in those cells in the body that are normally destined to form tissues such as muscle, fibrous structures and fat, etc. These are known as mesenchymal cells. Types of STS are often described according to their similarity to specific tissues. For example, rhabdomyosarcoma, which is the most common subtype of STS in children and young people, has features resembling the early stages of developing muscle tissue.
Overall, STS account for approximately 8% of all paediatric cancers. They are divided into two main groups - rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS – approximately 60% of STS in children) and non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas (NRSTS – this includes a large number of different tumour types which together account for about 40% of STS in children). Rhabdomyosarcoma is rare outside childhood and the teenage years but the many of the different types of NRSTS are more common in adults.
Cure rates vary considerable for types of STS and outcomes are strongly influenced not only by the particular subtype of STS but also by factors such as the site of the tumour, its size, local extent and the presence of distant spread of the disease (metastases). Treatments therefore vary in their intensity. Most, but not all, forms of STS require treatment with chemotherapy in addition to local treatment (surgery and / or radiotherapy).
If you are a patient, or the parent of a patient, with STS, please ask your doctor for further information about the treatment appropriate to you / your child available in your hospital.
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