sarcoma

Last edited 05/2019 and last reviewed 05/2019

A sarcoma is a malignant tumour made up of a tissue derived from embryonic mesenchyme. Practically any connective tissue may yield a tumour, examples being:

  • fat - liposarcoma
  • cartilage - chondrosarcoma
  • fibrous tissue - fibrosarcoma
  • skeletal muscle - rhabdomyosarcoma
  • smooth muscle - leiomyosarcoma

Sarcomatosis denotes the state of a sarcoma spreading widely throughout the body with a poor prognosis.

Around 3,300 people were diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in 2010 in the UK, that's around 9 people every day.

In the UK in 2010, around 1,700 males and around 1,600 females were diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma.

The most common subtypes of soft tissue sarcoma in the UK in 2008-2010 were:

  • leiomyosarcoma (18%),
  • fibroblastic sarcoma (14%) and
  • liposarcoma (13%)

Around 4 in 10 (43%) soft tissue sarcoma cases are diagnosed in people over 65 years old. Though all of the main soft tissue sarcoma subtypes are more common in older people than younger people, the age profile varies between subtypes

Rhabdomyosarcoma in particular affects young children

Almost half (45%) of people diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in the UK survive their disease for ten years or more (1996-2000).

More than half (53%) of people diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in the UK survive their disease for five years or more (2001-2005).

Three-quarters (75%) of people diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in the UK survive their disease for one year or more (2005-2009).

Soft tissue sarcoma 10-year survival in the UK is similar in men and women (1996-2000).

Soft tissue sarcoma five-year survival in the UK in males is highest for those diagnosed at 35-39 years old and in females is highest for those diagnosed at 25-29 years old (2001-2005).

7 in 10 people in the UK diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma aged 35-39 survive their disease for five years or more, compared with 3 in 10 people diagnosed aged 85+ (2001-2005).

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