Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Overview:

Soft tissue sarcomas are relatively common.  They are tumors that originate form structural and connective tissues such as cartilage, blood vessels, muscles, nerves or fat. They tend to be masses in the skin or subcutaneous tissues. Examples of soft tissue sarcomas include liposarcoma, nerve sheath tumor, fibrosarcoma, hemangiopericytoma, lipsarcoma and leiomyosarcoma.

Soft tissue sarcomas are locally invasive tumors and have finger-like projections that invade adjacent normal tissue. 

Signs and Symptoms:

Symptoms of soft tissue sarcomas depend upon the tumor's location and the degree of invasion to adjacent areas.  Tumors are most often noticed initially as a hard lump on the trunk, limb or oral cavity of a pet.

If the tumor is located in the gastrointestinal tract, a pet may experience weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea.  Tumors in the mouth may cause a pet to experience difficulty swallowing and lack of appetite.

Diagnostics:

It is important to gather as much information as possible about a tumor before initiating any type of treatment.  Information such as the tumor's tissue origin, size, location, level of aggressiveness and whether it has spread to other organs can be obtained through the following tests and procedures:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Serum biochemistry panel
  • Urinalysis (U/A)
  • Lymph node evaluation
  • Thoracic radiographs
  • Imaging studies (ultrasound, CT scans, etc)

Treatment:

There are three main treatment options for pets with soft tissue sarcoma. We will discuss all three with you and make recommendations based on your pet's diagnosis and your wishes.

  1. Surgery
  2. Radiation Therapy
  3. Chemotherapy

For tumors that are located at their original sites, we may recommend surgery alone or a combination of surgery and radiation.

For tumors that are known to be highly aggressive we may recommend chemotherapy to prevent or slow down the process of metastasis.