Soft tissue sarcoma rarely causes symptoms in its earliest stages. But as the tumor grows, the disease can cause pain and affect the body’s normal functions. Sarcoma can develop in tissue deep within the body and push away normal tissue as it grows. It’s possible for sarcoma tumors to become very large before they ever cause symptoms.

Sarcomas can develop anywhere in the body, so symptoms will vary based on where the tumor started. If sarcoma starts in the heart, it can cause chest pain. If it begins in the lungs, it can eventually cause trouble breathing.

The most common first sign of sarcoma in the trunk, arm or leg is a lump or swelling. The lump may be painless. As the tumor grows and presses on the nerves, muscles and tendons, it may cause pain, discomfort or other symptoms.

Benign (Noncancerous) Soft Tissue Tumors

Just because you have a lump doesn’t mean you have sarcoma. Most lumps are benign (not cancerous). The most common type of soft tissue lump is a lipoma. A lipoma is comprised of fat cells and it’s not cancerous. Lipomas rarely grow or change in size. Another benign soft tissue lump is a fibroid, which can occur in the uterus. Sometimes sarcomas are mistaken for benign fibroids.

When to Seek Medical Care

You should talk to your doctor if you notice a lump on your body, particularly if it is two inches or larger, painful or growing.

Sarcoma Screening

Currently, there is no standard screening test for sarcoma. Check with your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms or are concerned about your health. While most lumps aren’t sarcoma, it is best to be evaluated by a medical professional.