Decorative image

Survival

Survival depends on many different factors. It depends on your individual condition, type of cancer, treatment and level of fitness. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live. 

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. Remember, they can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

You can also talk about this with the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Overall survival for different types of soft tissue sarcoma

There are many different types of soft tissue sarcoma. Your outlook depends on which type you have. If you want to know more about your specific type of sarcoma, talk to your specialist. 

The statistics below are for sarcomas diagnosed in England between 1985 and 2009. They come from the National Cancer Intelligence Network. We have information about: 

  • leiomyosarcoma
  • liposarcoma
  • fibroblastic sarcoma
  • rhabdomyosarcoma
  • soft tissue Ewing’s sarcoma
  • synovial sarcoma
  • vascular sarcomas (angiosarcoma)
  • kaposi’s sarcoma
  • nerve sheath tumour

Survival by type or stage

Overall, for leiomyosarcoma:

  • Almost 50 out of every 100 people (almost 50%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis 

The outlook for leiomyosarcoma is affected by age. People who are younger than 60 years old have a better outlook than those older than 60.

Outlook also depends on which part of the body is affected.

Skin

95 out of every 100 people (95%) with leiomyosarcoma of the skin survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Arm or leg (limbs)

Around 70 out of every 100 people (around 70%) with leiomyosarcoma of the limbs survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

Main part of the body (trunk)

40 out of every 100 people (40%) with leiomyosarcoma of the connective tissue of the trunk survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. Connective tissue includes muscle, nerves or bones.

Digestive system (such as food pipe, stomach or bowel)

Around 40 out of every 100 people (around 40%) with leiomyosarcoma of the digestive system survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Female sex organs (such as the womb or ovaries)

Around 40 out of every 100 people (around 40%) with leiomyosarcoma of the female sex organs survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

The outlook for liposarcoma depends on the type of liposarcoma and where it is in the body.

There are four subtypes of liposarcoma: 

  • well differentiated liposarcoma
  • myxoid liposarcoma
  • pleomorphic liposarcoma
  • liposarcoma NOS (not otherwise specified)

Not otherwise specified’ (NOS) is a term used by doctors to group together some cancers that don’t belong to a specific group.

Well differentiated liposarcoma

Almost 90 out of every 100 people (almost 90%) with well differentiated liposarcoma survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Almost everyone (almost 100%) with well differentiated liposarcoma of the arms or legs will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Around 90 out of 100 people (around 90%) with well differentiated liposarcomas of connective tissue of the trunk of the body survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. Connective tissue includes muscle, bones or nerves. The trunk is the main part of the body, including the chest, tummy (abdomen) and pelvic area.

Around 60 out of every 100 people (around 60%) with well differentiated liposarcoma behind the organs in the tummy (retroperitoneal liposarcoma) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

The outlook for fibroblastic sarcoma depends on the type of fibroblastic sarcoma, and whereabouts it is in the body.

The statistics below are for 4 types of fibroblastic sarcoma: 

  • malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH)
  • dermatofibrosarcoma
  • fibrosarcoma
  • myxofibrosarcoma

Doctors don't generally use the term MFH anymore. Most of the tumours that used to be called MFH are now more accurately diagnosed as other types of sarcoma. The small number that would still be called MFH are now known as undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma.

The changes in how doctors diagnose and classify fibroblastic sarcoma have made it difficult to provide accurate survival statistics about each subtype. The following figures are based on patients diagnosed between the year 2000 and 2004, before these changes took place.

Dermatofibrosarcoma

Around all people (around 99%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Myxofibrosarcoma

75 out of 100 people (75%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Malignant fibrous histiocytoma

60 out of 100 people (60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Fibrosarcoma

60 out of 100 people (60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

The outlook for fibroblastic sarcoma also varies depending on whereabouts it is in the body.

Arms or legs (limbs)

Around 70 out of every 100 people (around 70%) with fibroblastic sarcoma in their limbs will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Main part of body (trunk)

Around 60 out of every 100 people (around 60%) with fibroblastic sarcoma in the trunk of their body will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

The outlook for rhabdomyosarcoma depends on the type of rhabdomyosarcoma and your age.

Outlook is better for rhabdomyosarcomas that develop in the head and neck than those in the arms, legs or main part (trunk) of the body. This difference may be because of age. It is mostly children who get rhabdomyosarcomas of the head and neck.

The different subtypes of rhabdomyosarcoma include:

  • embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma
  • alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma
  • pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma

Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma

60 out of every 100 people (60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma

More than 30 out of every 100 people (more than 30%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma

More than 30 out of every 100 people (more than 30%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Age affects outlook for embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma and younger patients have a better outlook than older patients.

Younger than 15 

70 out of every 100 people (70%) who are younger than 15 survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Older than 15

Around 50 out of 100 people (around 50%) who are older than 15 survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Overall, for people with a soft tissue Ewing’s sarcoma:

  • more than 40 out of every 100 people (more than 40%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis 

In the most recent survival data, factors such as age or where the sarcoma is, did not significantly affect the outcome. Other factors such as the size of the tumour and whether or not it has spread were not included in this data, but will affect your outlook.

Overall, for people with synovial sarcoma: 

  • almost 60 out of every 100 people (almost 60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more 

Your outcome is affected by your age and where the sarcoma is in your body.

30 or younger

Around 75 out of every 100 people (around 75%) aged 30 or younger survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

Older than 30

50 out of every 100 people (50%) older than 30 years of age survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed

Survival is also affected by where the synovial sarcoma is in your body.

Arms or legs (limbs)

Around 65 out of every 100 people (around 65%) with synovial sarcoma in the limbs survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Main part of the body (trunk)

Almost 40 out of every 100 people (almost 40%) with synovial sarcoma in the trunk of the body survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

The outlook for vascular sarcoma depends on your type of vascular sarcoma and where the sarcoma is in your body.

The 2 types of vascular sarcomas are:

  • angiosarcoma
  • haemangioendothelioma

Angiosarcoma

Around 30 out of every 100 people (around 30%) with angiosarcoma will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Haemangioendothelioma

Around 40 out of every 100 people (around 40%) with haemangioendothelioma survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Your outlook also depends on whereabouts the sarcoma is in your body. 

Breast

Around 65 out of 100 people (around 65%) with angiosarcoma of the breast will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

An organ in the main part (trunk) of the body (such as liver or stomach)

Around 10 out of 100 people (around 10%) with vascular sarcoma in an organ such as the liver or stomach, survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Overall, for people with Kaposi’s sarcoma: 

  • more than 75 out of every 100 people (more than 75%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

The outcome is better for men than women. We don’t really know why this is.

Overall, for people with nerve sheath tumours: 

  • more than 50 out of every 100 people (more than 50%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

These statistics are not affected by other factors such as age or where the sarcoma is in the body.

There are no UK statistics for survival by stage of sarcoma. The statistics below are from America. Please be aware that due to differences in health care systems, data collection and the population, these figures are not a true picture of survival in the UK.

The following statistics are for soft tissue sarcoma in the arms or legs.

Stage 1

Around 90 out of 100 people (around 90%) survive for 5 years or more.

Stage 2

Around 80 out of 100 people (around 80%) survive for 5 years or more.

Stage 3

Almost 60 out of 100 people (almost 60%) will survive for 5 years or more.

Stage 4

There are no statistics for sarcomas that have spread to other parts of the body (stage 4), but they have a lower survival rate than stage 3.

In England and Wales, almost 60 out of 100 people with soft tissue sarcoma (almost 60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. They relate to the number of people who are still alive 1 year or 5 years after their diagnosis of cancer.

Some people live much longer than 5 years.

More statistics

For more in-depth information about survival and soft tissue sarcoma, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

Last reviewed: 
09 Apr 2018
  • Survival by type

    Soft Tissue Sarcoma Incidence and Survival Tumours Diagnosed in England Between 1985 and 2009 NCIN  - these are relative survival so need to add the paragraph into the ‘where info comes from box’ - These statistics are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival. 

    Survival by stage

    Survival stats by stage from AJCC cancer staging manual 7th edition pg 295. 

    Overall survival   

    Statistics provided by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK.  

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.