Soft tissue sarcoma

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Fibrous tissue tumours

Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in the different types of fibrous tissue. These tissues join together the inner structures of the body.

Desmoid tumour is a type of tumour that develops in fibrous tissue. Find out more about desmoid tumour.

Malignant fibrous histiocytoma

Malignant fibrous histiocytoma is also known as pleomorphic malignant fibrous histiocytoma (PMFH). It usually is the most commonly diagnosed sarcoma in the extremities, and it usually develops in the legs and feet or arms and hands. It can also develop in the retroperitoneum (the back of the abdominal cavity), but this is less common. Malignant fibrous histiocytoma usually develops in people in their 70s.

Malignant fibrous histiocytoma contains a mixture of cells that look like both fibroblasts and histiocytes. Fibroblasts are connective tissue cells found throughout the body. Histiocytes are a type of white blood cell found in connective tissue.

These tumours can start in tissue that has been treated with radiation. They can also start in a wound that does not heal, which is called chronic ulceration. They are usually high grade, which means that they grow quickly and are likely to spread, or metastasize. If they spread, they usually spread to the lungs.


Myxofibrosarcoma is one of the most common types of soft tissue sarcoma. It is also considered a myxoid type of malignant fibrous histiocytoma. Myxoid means that it contains or resembles mucus, which is a thick, slippery fluid.

Myxofibrosarcomas usually develop in the upper or lower limbs. They commonly affect people 60–80 years of age.

These tumours are usually slow growing. They often come back, or recur, after they are surgically removed. Myxofibrosarcomas can be low or high grade. Low-grade tumours may develop into high-grade tumours if they come back after surgery to remove them. High-grade tumours that are deep in the tissue tend to spread, or metastasize, quickly. If myxofibrosarcomas spread, they usually spread to the lung, bone and lymph nodes.


Fibrosarcoma is an uncommon tumour. It most often occurs in middle-aged to older adults.

These tumours tend to develop around scars, muscles, nerves and tendons. They also develop around the lining of bones in the legs, arms, trunk or head. In rare cases, fibrosarcoma occurs in an ovary or other unusual sites such as the windpipe, or trachea. Some fibrosarcomas start in tissue that has been treated with radiation.

Fibrosarcoma can spread through the bloodstream to the lungs.

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans is a slow-growing tumour of fibrous tissues in the skin. It often starts in the dermis layer of the skin and grows down into deeper tissue. Although these tumours can grow into nearby tissue, they rarely spread to other parts of the body.

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans can develop anywhere on the body, but they usually develop on the trunk. It also occurs on the arms or legs. It usually develops in young or middle-aged adults.

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans often comes back, or recurs, after surgery. It usually comes back in the same area as the original tumour.


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