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Soft tissue tumors

A soft tissue tumor is a diverse group of rare tumors that originates from the connective tissue. 4 to 6 % of children's tumors are soft tissue tumors. These tumors occur in muscles, nerves, fat, blood vessels, cartilage, bone and the tissue between organs

In children under ten years of age, a tumor in the muscle tissue is most common; in 60% of cases. A tumor in the muscle tissue is called rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS). In older children and young adults, tumors are relatively common in smooth muscle tissue (leiomyosarcoma), nerve sheath tissue (malignant peripheral nerve sheet tumors), blood vessels (hemangiopericytoma) and in unknown tissue (synovial sarcoma). Tumors in soft tissue are usually painless. They can occur anywhere in the body.

Symptoms of this disease

Children with soft tissue tumors often have no symptoms for a long time. They also rarely experience pain. Usually a convex stomach shape is the first sign that something is wrong. Your child may urinate blood or complain about abdominal pain. The symptoms are usually so vague that it is only after you have realized that your child was not OK. Only once the diagnosis has been made will you understand why your child was languid, tired, listless, nauseous or feverish and why he or she did not have an appetite. 

How do we make the diagnosis?

We make the diagnosis using a biopsy. This means that we examine a piece of tissue. A tumor in the muscle tissue can usually be recognized under the microscope. The other soft tissue tumors resemble each other and are therefore difficult to distinguish. For this reason, we conduct an additional examination of the tissue.

In addition, we assess the expansion of the tumor in the body. To do this, we take X-rays, CT or MRI scans and a PET scan. We also often perform a bone marrow extraction and do a bone biopsy for examination.

Treatment of soft tissue tumors

The treatment for this type of tumor is almost always a combination of different treatments. If the tumor responds to chemotherapy, we start with this to reduce the tumor and to prevent or clear metastases. In addition, we perform an operation to remove the tumor. Sometimes radiation is also necessary.

In addition to the well-known chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, other treatment methods are being developed. One example is brachytherapy. This is a less harmful form of radiation, in which the tumor receives sufficient radiation, but the healthy surrounding tissues do not (or much less).