Nonrhabdomyosarcoma Soft Tissue Sarcomas Clinical Presentation

Updated: Dec 21, 2022
  • Author: Jacquelyn N Crane, MD; Chief Editor: Vikramjit S Kanwar, MBBS, MBA, MRCP(UK)  more...
  • Print


Patients with nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas (NRSTSs) usually present with painless, asymptomatic masses. The tumors may come to attention because of an episode of trauma in the affected area. Mass effect due to the tumor may cause specific signs or symptoms depending on the location of the mass. For instance, invasion of local neurovascular bundles in an involved extremity may lead to pain, swelling, numbness, or loss of function. Large masses in the chest wall may cause pulmonary dysfunction.

If advanced metastatic disease is present, systemic symptoms with fever, sweats, and weight loss may be observed.

Hemangiopericytomas have been associated with hypoglycemia and hypophosphatemic rickets. Hyperglycemia has been observed with fibrosarcoma of the lung.



Physical findings depend on the location of the mass. A mass is palpable in many, if not most, patients.

Specific tumors may be associated with specific findings. Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors may be associated with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), which is characterized by café au lait spots, axillary freckling, neurofibromas, skeletal dysplasias, learning disabilities, and various neoplasms. CNS tumors may cause an abnormal neurologic findings depending on the location of the mass and the structures affected.



Genetic conditions such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome associated with P53 mutations, NF1, and germline mutation of the retinoblastoma susceptibility gene, RB, are known genetic risk factors for NRSTS. Gorlin syndrome has been associated with an increased risk of development of fibrosarcoma and leiomyosarcoma. NF1 is strongly associated with the development of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors.

Other factors with an association with the development of NRSTs include exposure to previous radiation, childhood cancer survival, and infection with retroviruses in immunocompromised children (eg, those with HIV or Epstein-Barr virus [EBV] infection). Individuals with HIV have an increased risk of developing leiomyosarcoma related to EBV infection.