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About GIST and Other Soft-Tissue Sarcomas In The Abdomen

Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Sarcoma Service has a specialist team that treats soft-tissue sarcomas that form in the abdomen.

Here are some soft-tissue sarcomas of the abdomen:

  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) usually forms in the stomach or small intestine.
  • Leiomyosarcoma most commonly forms in the uterus. It can also form in the bladder or gastrointestinal system.
  • Liposarcoma can happen in fat cells in any part of the body, including the abdomen and an area within it called the retroperitoneum.

Signs and Symptoms

These are signs and symptoms of GIST:

  • Blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool or vomit
  • Pain in the abdomen, which may be severe
  • Feeling very tired
  • Trouble or pain when swallowing
  • Feeling full after eating only a little food

These are signs and symptoms of uterine leiomyosarcoma:

  • Abnormal bleeding or spotting from the uterus
  • Leakage from the vagina that is not bloody
  • Pain or feeling of fullness in the lower belly

These are signs of liposarcoma in the abdomen and retroperitoneum:

  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen
  • Feeling full after eating only a little food
  • Constipation
  • Blood in stool

These are not sure signs of sarcomas. An infection or other problem can also cause them. Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Specialties & Treatments

The treatment or combination of treatments each patient has depends on the stage of the soft-tissue sarcoma, recommendations of the care team, and the patient’s wishes. Our entire team of sarcoma experts has weekly conferences where they work together on the best treatment plan for each patient.

Surgery. Surgeons expert in sarcoma care treat patients with GIST or other sarcoma in or near the stomach or intestines.

Women’s cancer surgeons care for women who have a soft-tissue sarcoma in the female organs.

Radiation. Many patients with soft-tissue sarcomas get radiation treatment, as well as surgery. Huntsman Cancer Institute’s cancer doctors who specialize in radiation treatment provide expert care. Radiation treatment is available at Huntsman Cancer Institute and our clinics in South Jordan and Farmington.

Learn more about types of cancer treatments and cancer screenings.

Find a Soft-Tissue Sarcoma Doctor

Diagnosis & Stages

Diagnosis of Soft-Tissue Sarcoma

Doctors use these tests to diagnose soft-tissue sarcoma:

  • Imaging: Your care team takes special images such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRI to look at the suspected sarcoma.
  • Biopsy:Your care team removes cell or tissue samples to look at them under a microscope and check for signs of cancer.

Stages of Soft-Tissue Sarcoma

Cancer stages show whether cancer has spread within the soft tissue or to other parts of the body. Cancer spreads in the body in three ways: through tissue, the lymph system, or the blood. Sarcoma usually spreads by growing into nearby tissues or through the blood to the lungs.

These are the general stages used for soft-tissue sarcoma:

  • Localized: The cancer has not grown beyond its beginning position.
  • Regionally advanced: The sarcoma has grown large enough to invade surrounding tissues or spread to nearby lymph nodes. This happens only in a few types of sarcoma.
  • Metastatic: The sarcoma has spread to a distant part of the body, usually the lungs.

When cancer spreads from where it started to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. These metastatic cancer cells are the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if soft-tissue sarcoma spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are actually soft-tissue sarcoma cells. The disease is metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma, not lung cancer.

Learn more about the stages of soft-tissue sarcoma from the National Cancer Institute.

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