Sarcoma Symptoms, Risks, and Diagnosis

Sarcoma Symptoms and Signs

Sarcoma symptoms are often specific to the structure it affects. For instance, a sarcoma located on or near the heart can produce symptoms of cardiac dysfunction.

Many times, sarcomas don't produce symptoms other than swelling or pain.

Some possible symptoms may include:

  • Troubles with daily functioning (breathing, eating, walking)
  • Painless or painful mass or lump
  • Stiffness

Sarcoma Risk Factors

Risk factors increase a person's chance of cancer development. In some cases, people can change their habits or jobs to reduce sarcoma risk factors.

Sarcoma often doesn't relate to an exact cause, but some risk factors can increase your chance of getting it.

Sarcoma risks may include:

  • Exposure to dioxin or vinyl chloride monomer
  • Genetic diseases
  • Gardner syndrome
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1
  • Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Tuberous sclerosis syndrome
  • Werner syndrome
  • Prior history of radiation therapy for cancer

Sarcoma Diagnosis and Staging

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center specialists use state-of-the-art technologies and techniques to diagnose sarcoma.

UPMC's Department of Pathology is an integral part of our multidisciplinary team. Besides diagnostic imaging, our experts perform biopsies to get tissue samples for testing.

Often, we're able to perform a minimally invasive biopsy, but some sarcomas may require an open biopsy. A surgeon will do this under general anesthesia.

Tests to help diagnose sarcoma may include:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan — this imaging test produces a 360° view of the body and 3D images. CT scans show more detail than basic x-rays and take more accurate pictures.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan — MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnet to create cross-sectional pictures.
  • Needle biopsy — the doctor passes a needle through the skin to remove a small piece of tissue from the tumor. He or she sends the tissue to the lab for review under a microscope to look for the presence of cancer cells.
  • Radiographic tests — various imaging techniques combine x-rays with computer technology to produce detailed pictures. You may need a shot with dye to make the pictures easier to view.

Staging helps each member of your sarcoma care team know the exact type, size, location, and spread of the cancer.

Your care team will conduct tests and procedures to classify the type and stage of your sarcoma.

Sarcoma Prognosis and Outcomes

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is a partner of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI). UPCI is the only cancer center in the region recognized by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Our experts look at more than just the stage or type of sarcoma. They also keep in mind factors that affect your well being.

Nutrition and pain specialists work side by side with oncologists and others to make sure the focus is on you — not the disease.

Your sarcoma prognosis will depend upon many factors, including:

  • Your diagnosis.
  • Your total health.
  • How well your sarcoma care team expects your treatment plan to work.

Our experts will work at their highest level with an eye toward achieving the best outcome possible.

Contact Us About Sarcoma Symptoms and Risks

To learn more about sarcoma symptoms and risks, call UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at 412-647-2811.

Or, complete a sarcoma appointment request form.