Signs and Symptoms of Soft Tissue Sarcomas

More than half of sarcomas begin in an arm or leg. Most people simply notice a lump that has grown over a period of time (weeks to months). Although the lump is often not painful, in some cases it will hurt.

When sarcomas grow in the back of the abdomen (the retroperitoneum), the symptoms they cause more often come from other problems. Sometimes the tumors cause pain. They may also cause blockage or bleeding of the stomach or bowels. They can grow large enough for the tumor to be felt in the abdomen. About 20% of sarcomas begin in the abdomen (stomach) area.

Sarcomas can also begin on the outside of the chest or abdomen (about 10%) or in the head or neck area (around 10%).

If you have any of the following problems, see a doctor right away:

  • A new lump or a lump that is growing (anywhere on your body)
  • Abdominal pain that is getting worse
  • Blood in your stool or vomit
  • Black, tarry stools (when bleeding happens in the stomach or bowels, the blood can turn black as it is digested, and it may make the stool very black and sticky)

These symptoms are more often caused by things other than sarcoma, but they still need to be checked out by a doctor.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: December 29, 2014 Last Revised: February 9, 2016

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