Benign Soft Tissue Tumors

Benign soft tissue tumors are noncancerous tumors arising from the musculoskeletal system and are 100 times more common than their sarcoma (cancerous) counterparts.  These tumors arise from connective tissue including fat, muscle, fibrous tissue, nerves and vascular tissue. The most common types of soft tissue tumors are lipomatous (fatty) tumors, fibrous tumors, vascular tumors and nerve sheath tumors. Of the benign tumors, a high majority are subcutaneous (just below the skin) and less than 5 cm in size, while the opposite is true of soft tissue sarcomas.

Common Types of Soft Tissue Tumors:

  • Lipoma
  • Atypical lipomatous tumor
  • Nodular fasciitis
  • Myositis ossificans
  • Elastofibroma
  • Desmoid tumor
  • Tenosynovial giant cell tumor
  • Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS)
  • Hemangioma/vascular malformation
  • Schwannoma
  • Neurofibroma
  • Intramuscular myxoma

Diagnostic Studies and Tests:

MRI is the imaging study of choice for most soft tissue masses. Some soft tissue tumors such as lipomas can be diagnosed on MRI scans. However, most soft tissue tumors on MRI are non-diagnostic and require biopsy for definitive diagnosis. Typically, an image guided core needle biopsy is utilized to obtain tissue for pathologic analysis and diagnosis.  Once a diagnosis is obtained, the case is reviewed at the Parkview Cancer Institute’s Multidisciplinary Sarcoma & Musculoskeletal Tumor Conference by our dedicated Sarcoma Care Team to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Treatment of Benign Soft Tissue Tumors:

Although treatment depends on the specific type of soft tissue tumor, in general these lesions are treated with surgical excision for symptomatic relief. Many benign soft tissue tumors have low local recurrence rates after surgical removal.  However, certain types of soft tissue tumors are associated with higher rates of local recurrence. In certain clinical scenarios adjuvant therapies are utilized including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation. For example, desmid tumor, a locally aggressive benign tumor, can sometimes be stabilized with certain chemotherapeutic agents.         

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