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Soft Tissue & Bone Tumors

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Our doctors determine the best treatments for Soft Tissue and Bone Tumors.

Tumors that develop within the skeletal system are bone tumors and tumors that form in muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and similar structures are referred to as soft tissue tumors. Regardless of where a tumor is located, it is an abnormal growth of cells that can be harmless (benign) or cancerous (malignant) in nature.

  • Malignant bone and soft tissue tumors are called sarcomas
  • Any type of growth will need to be evaluated to determine what type of tumor it is

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Benign Bone Tumors

Most bone tumors are not cancerous and will not spread to other locations. Even so, benign growths may lead to fractures and weaken bones over time. The most common type of benign bone tumors is osteochondroma, an overgrowth of cartilage and bone that occurs most frequently among people between the ages of 10 and 30. Enchondroma usually affects hands and feet, while osteoblastoma is a rare tumor that may occur in the spine or affect longer bones of the body. Symptoms commonly associated with bone tumors include:

  • Some degree of bone or joint pain
  • Pain that gets worse over time
  • Discomfort that affects nearby soft tissues and nerves (common with benign bone tumors that initially have no symptoms)
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Benign Soft Tissue Tumors

Angiolipoma, fibroma, and schwannoma that affects tissues around nerves are among the common types of soft tissue tumors. Tumors of this type can affect the peripheral nervous system or develop deep within tissues and may not be removable with surgery. Some soft tissue tumors may not need be treated at all if there is no pain or potential risk. Most soft tissue tumors are a growth of a fat cells called lipomas that form just below the skin. They usually pose very little risk. Some benign soft tissue tumors are linked to underlying conditions. Soft tissue tumors do not directly produce pain, but may cause:

  • Noticeable bumps or lumps
  • Visible swelling
  • Pressure on nearby nerves if the growth is large enough
  • Breaks in nearby bones

Cancerous Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors

Malignant growths in bones and soft tissues can spread to other parts of the body and destroy bone normal tissues in bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments and affect the functioning of nerves and blood vessels. Osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing’s sarcoma are examples of cancers that may originate in bones. It’s believed that bone cancer develops because of errors in the DNA of cells in bones.

Soft tissue cancers can develop as small growths in any soft tissues that become larger and spread quickly to nearby tissues like lymph nodes. Tumors that behave like this are called high-grade tumors because of their rapid advancement. Because of the elasticity of soft tissues, some cancerous tumors become fairly large as growth progresses.

Diagnosing and Treating Soft Tissue and Bone Tumors

Diagnosis of soft tissue and bone tumors typically starts with a thorough physical exam and a review of medical history. Blood tests and image tests are often done to pinpoint a location and identify the specific type of tumor or cancer that’s present. A biopsy is usually done to identify a tumor as malignant or benign. Treatment options may include:

  • Observation (for benign tumors)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy and surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible (for cancerous tumors)
  • Removal of nearby tissues after cancerous tumors have been removed to prevent the regrowth of tumors
  • Tumor removal (if possible) of benign tumors pressing on nearby structures and causing disruptive and potentially serious symptoms

Since some tumors don’t produce any noticeable symptoms right away, preventative screenings can be beneficial for individuals with a family history of certain cancers. Age is also a risk factor worth considering when determining screening frequency. Half of all cancers occur more often in adults 66 years of age and older. Early detection of any soft tissue or bone tumor, regardless of the age of the patient, increases the odds of experiencing positive results with treatment.

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