What to Know About Soft Tissue Sarcomas in the Leg

Cancers known as soft tissue sarcomas arise in the soft tissues of your body, such as cartilage, tendons, fat, or muscle. The most common place they form is in your legs.

According to the American Cancer Society's projections, 13,400 individuals would be diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in 2023.

Soft tissue sarcomas usually affect the extremities, which include your arms and legs. About 44% of all sarcomas of the extremities occur in the thigh, making it the most prevalent site of occurrence.

This page examines soft tissue sarcomas of the legs in more detail, covering the many forms of sarcoma, warning signs, and treatment options.

What are soft tissue sarcomas in the leg?

The leg is where soft tissue sarcomas most frequently occur. Various kinds of soft tissue sarcomas can occur in the leg, such as:
  • Adult fibrosarcoma: Between the ages of 20 and 60, adult fibrosarcoma typically develops in the connective tissues of the arms, legs, or trunk.
  • Alveolar soft part sarcoma: Young adults most frequently acquire alveolar soft part sarcoma in their legs.
  • Clear cell sarcoma: Arm or leg tendons are frequently the site of origin for clear cell sarcoma. Of those with diagnoses, half are older than 39.
  • Epithelioid sarcoma: The skin under the hands, forearms, lower legs, or feet is where epithelioid sarcoma forms. Teens and young adults are the age group most affected.
  • Fibromyxoid sarcoma: Usually, fibromyxoid sarcoma begins as a painless growth in the arms, legs, or trunk.
  • Liposarcomas: Liposarcoma often affects individuals between the ages of 50 and 65. It begins in fat tissue. They frequently appear in the rear of the inner abdomen, behind the knee, or in the thigh.
  • Myxofibrosarcoma: People over 65 are most likely to develop myxofibrosarcomas in their arms and legs.
  • Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma: Older persons typically have undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma in their arms or legs.

Risk factors for soft tissue sarcomas

The following are risk factors for soft tissue sarcomas:
  • receiving radiation therapy
Having cancer syndromes in the family, like:
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Gardner syndrome
  • harm to your lymphatic system
exposure to substances like:
  • vinyl chloride
  • arsenic
  • pesticides containing phenoxyacetic acid and dioxin

What are the symptoms of soft tissue sarcomas in the leg?

The following are the primary signs of soft tissue sarcomas:
  • a growing, painless lump
  • swelling
  • increasing irritation or suffering as it presses against other tissue
One of your joints' sarcomas could result in:
  • restricted movement
  • noticeable deforming
  • trouble walking
  • limping

How are soft tissue sarcomas in your leg diagnosed and staged?

A biopsy and imaging tests are the primary methods used to diagnose soft tissue sarcomas.

Among the imaging tests that could be employed are:
  • X-rays
  • ultrasound
  • CT (Computerised Tomography) scans
  • scanning using positron emission tomography (PET)
  • imaging using magnetic resonance (MRI)

Soft tissue sarcoma stages

The TNM system, developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), is the most widely used staging method for soft tissue sarcomas. Soft tissue sarcomas are staged using this method according to:
  • tumor size
  • how many lymph nodes it has infiltrated
  • whether it has metastasized, or spread to far-off places
  • cancer grade, a scale from 1 to 3 that indicates how aggressive the cancer is
Sarcomas of the trunk and extremities are staged according to the TNM method as follows:

1AThe cancer hasn't spread to other areas and is less than two inches across. It is either grade 1 or not specified.
1BThe malignancy is more than two inches in diameter. It hasn't extended to far-off places. It is either grade 1 or not specified.
2The cancer hasn't spread to other tissues and is less than two inches in diameter. It's either third or second grade.
3AThe malignancy has not spread to other tissues and measures between two and three inches across. It's either third or second grade.
3BThe cancer has not spread to other tissues and is more than 3.9 inches wide. It's either third or second grade.
4The cancer has progressed to distant regions, lymph nodes, or both. Any size or grade will do.

How are soft tissue sarcomas in your leg treated?

The primary course of treatment for soft tissue sarcomas is surgery. Among the surgical types are:
  • Mohs surgery (used for skin cancer lesions): Mohs surgery involves slicing the tumour into extremely small layers until the malignancy is completely gone. Surgeons can remove the least amount of tissue feasible thanks to it.
  • Wide local excision: The tumour is excised along with some surrounding tissue.
  • Limb-sparing surgery: If necessary, grafts are used to restore the limb after the tumour is removed.
  • Amputation: Amputation is the complete removal of a limb. Seldom is it necessary in cases of soft tissue sarcoma.
Before or after surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or both may be used to reduce the tumour's size or eliminate any leftover cells.

SARS-related soft tissue tumours that have spread can occasionally be treated with immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

Are soft tissue sarcomas of the leg curable?

For many people, soft tissue sarcomas are treatable. If you have a non-aggressive subtype and your tumour is discovered before it spreads to other tissues, your cancer has the best chance of being cured.

What is the outlook for those who have leg soft tissue sarcomas?

Depending on the subtype, soft tissue sarcomas have varying prognoses. The prognosis is usually better for sarcomas that originate in the limbs than in the belly.

Soft tissue sarcomas have the following 5-year relative survival rates:

Stage5-year relative survival rate
All stages65%


One of the most typical places for soft tissue sarcomas to occur is the leg. Any soft tissue, including muscle, fat, and connective tissue, can produce sarcomas.

Compared to malignancies that grow inside the abdomen, soft tissue sarcomas that occur in the leg typically have a better prognosis. Surgical excision of the tumour and surrounding tissue is frequently an effective treatment option, avoiding the need for amputation.


Is soft tissue sarcoma serious?

Can be a serious medical issue.

Can sarcoma be cured completely?

If surgery can remove both the primary tumour and all of the cancer's metastases, some patients might recover.

Can you live a long life after sarcoma?

The 5-year survival rate for soft tissue sarcomas is about 65%.

Can you live a long life with sarcoma?

The five-year survival rate of approximately 90 percent.

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