General Information About Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Other risk factors include the following:
- Having AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) and Epstein-Barr virusinfection.
- Having retinoblastoma in both eyes.
- Past treatment with radiation therapy.
The most common sign of childhood soft tissue sarcoma is a painless lump or swelling in soft tissues of the body.
A sarcoma may appear as a painless lump under the skin, often on an arm, a leg, or the trunk. There may be no other symptoms at first. As the sarcoma grows larger and presses on nearby organs, nerves, muscles, or blood vessels, symptoms may occur, including pain or weakness.
Other conditions may cause the same symptoms that soft tissue sarcomas do. A doctor should be consulted if any of these problems occur.
Diagnostic tests and a biopsy are used to detect (find) and diagnose childhood soft tissue sarcoma.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
- Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- X-rays: An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body onto film, making pictures of areas inside the body. A series of x-rays may be done to check the lump or painful area.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen. The patient lies on a table that slides into the MRI machine, which takes pictures of the inside of the body. The pad on the patient's abdomen helps make the pictures clearer.
If these tests show there may be a soft tissue sarcoma, a biopsy is done. One of the following types of biopsies may be used:
- Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: The removal of tissue or fluid using a thin needle. A pathologist views the tissue or fluid under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
- Core biopsy: The removal of tissue using a wide needle. This procedure may be guided using ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
- Incisional biopsy: The removal of part of a lump or a sample of tissue. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
- Excisional biopsy: The removal of an entire lump or area of tissue that doesn't look normal. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells. An excisional biopsy may be used to completely remove smaller tumors that are near the surface of the skin.