​Soft tissue tumours arise from soft tissues such as muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and fat and may involve any area of the body. While not all soft tissue tumours are malignant (cancerous), when the term 'sarcoma' is used, it implies that the tumour is malignant.

People of any age can be affected with sarcoma, although it tends to occur in adults more often than children. A painless lump is the most common symptom, especially when found in the early stages.

At times, the sarcoma may be found after attention is drawn to the area from an unrelated injury. Symptoms such as pain, numbness, swelling, or difficulty breathing can arise if the sarcoma compresses adjacent tissues and organs. Constitutional symptoms such as fever or weight loss can also be present.

Imaging studies help define the local and systemic (rest of the body) extent of the disease and include plain radiographs (x-rays), MRI, and CT scans. A small tissue sample (biopsy) allows for confirmation of the diagnosis. Surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and more recently, targeted agents, either alone or in combination, are typical treatment options.

Notably, there are many different subtypes of sarcoma that can behave and respond differently to treatment. The complexity of therapy dictates that patients with sarcomas should seek treatment in a tertiary centre with comprehensive multidisciplinary care.

In July's ‘Ask the Specialist’ forum, Dr Looi Wen Shen, Consultant from the Division of Radiation Oncology at National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), a member of the SingHealth group, answers your questions on sarcomas.

This 'Ask the Specialist' forum has closed. Thank you for your interest and participation.




About Dr Looi Wen Shen

Dr Looi Wen Shen is a Consultant radiation oncologist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), and a Clinical Assistant Professor in Duke-NUS medical school. He is fellowship-trained, having completed a year-long fellowship in paediatric and adult proton therapy at the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. He specialises in caring for both adults and children, and has an interest in paediatric tumours, urologic tumours, sarcomas, and lymphomas.

After receiving his undergraduate medical degree from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Dr Looi went on to complete his residency training in National Cancer Centre Singapore before receiving specialist accreditation in radiation oncology by the Specialist Accreditation Board. He is an active cancer researcher and his research has been published in respected journals such as the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology and Physics, and Medical Physics, Paediatric Blood and Cancer, and the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Through his research, he endeavours to decrease the acute and late side effects of radiation in children and adults, and improve their quality of life.

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