Types of sarcoma
This page contains information about as soft tissue sarcoma and primary bone sarcoma.
Soft tissue sarcoma
Soft tissue sarcomas develop in soft tissues such as fat, muscle, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, nerves, tendons and cartilage.
There are more than 50 types of soft tissue sarcomas.
In adults, the most common types are:
- Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS): an aggressive type of soft tissue sarcoma with high incidence of local recurrence and metastasis, most common in the age group of 50-70 years.
- Leiomyosarcoma: a malignant smooth muscle tumour that arises most commonly in the limbs, abdomen and uterus.
- Liposarcoma: a malignant tumour that arises from fat cells, most commonly in the trunk, limbs and abdomen.
- Angiosarcoma: a malignant tumour that arises from blood vessels or lymphatic vessels. Prior radiotherapy is a risk factor for angiosarcoma, often with a median latency period of 10 years.
- Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour: a malignant tumour that arises in the lining of nerves, often in the deep tissue of the arms, legs and trunk..
- Fibroblastic sarcoma (fibrosarcoma): a malignant tumour that develops in the fibrous tissues of the body, most commonly in the limbs, skin and trunk.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumour: a common type of soft tissue sarcoma that starts in the digestive tract. These tumours are most common in people aged 50–80.
- Kaposi’s sarcoma: a malignant tumour, which is caused by a virus that can cause the disease in people with a compromised immune system, such as people with AIDS, most commonly affecting the skin, mouth and internal organs.
In children, the most common types are:
- rhabdomyosarcoma: an aggressive type of soft tissue sarcoma that which arises from skeletal muscles. Rhabdomyosarcomas are most common in children aged less than 10, although they can also develop in teenagers and adults.
- Synovial sarcoma: a malignant tumour that which develops in cells around joints and tendons, more commonly in children and young adults, but can occur in older people.
Primary bone sarcoma
Primary bone sarcoma starts in the bone. This is different from bone metastases, which have spread to the bones from somewhere else, such as the breast or lung, when the cancer in these other organs is at an advanced stage.
Bone sarcomas are more common in children and teenagers than in older adults.
- Osteosarcoma - most common primary bone cancer, usually occuring at the ends of the long bones, especially around the knees
- Ewing sarcoma - common sites are the pelvis, the chest wall and the middle of the long bones in the legs; it may also form in soft tissue.
American Cancer Society (2018). Soft tissue sarcoma. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/soft-tissue-sarcoma.html
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2018). NCCN guidelines for patients: soft tissue sarcoma. https://www.nccn.org/patients/guidelines/sarcoma/index.html
Sarcoma UK (2015). Soft tissue sarcoma. https://sarcoma.org.uk/sarcoma-types/soft-tissue-sarcoma
Cancer Australia (2015). Soft tissue sarcoma. https://childrenscancer.canceraustralia.gov.au/types-childrens-cancers/s...
National Cancer Institute (2018). Osteosarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma of bone treatment (PDQ®) – patient version. https://www.cancer.gov/types/bone/patient/osteosarcoma-treatment-pdq
American Cancer Society (2018). Osteosarcoma. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/osteosarcoma.html
American Cancer Society (2016). Ewing family of tumors. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ewing-tumor.html
National Cancer Institute (2018). Ewing sarcoma treatment (PDQ®) – patient version. https://www.cancer.gov/types/bone/patient/ewing-treatment-pdq
American Cancer Society (2017). Gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST). https://www.cancer.org/cancer/gastrointestinal-stromal-tumor.html