Survival for soft tissue sarcomas

Survival depends on different factors. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live.

Doctors usually work out the outlook for a certain disease by looking at large groups of people. Because this cancer is less common, survival is harder to estimate than for other, more common cancers.

These are general statistics based on large groups of people. 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 to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Survival for different types of soft tissue sarcomas

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
  • synovial sarcoma
  • vascular sarcomas
  • malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNST)

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 aged 60 years or older.

Site in the body

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 trunk survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

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)

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 several subtypes of liposarcoma: 

  • well differentiated liposarcoma
  • dedifferentiated liposarcoma
  • myxoid liposarcoma
  • pleomorphic liposarcoma
  • myxoid pleomorphic liposarcoma

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 in the connective tissue of the trunk of the body survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. For liposarcomas, the connective tissue involved is fat tissue. 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.

There are several subtypes of cancerous (malignant) fibroblastic sarcomas: 

  • solitary fibrous tumour, malignant
  • fibrosarcoma not otherwise specified (NOS)
  • myxofibrosarcoma
  • low grade fibromyxoid sarcoma
  • sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma

The WHO classification of soft tissue sarcomas has changed in 2020. These 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 years 2000 and 2004, before these changes took place.

Dermatofibrosarcoma

Dermatofibrosarcoma is an intermediate tumour. This means they grow and spread to nearby tissues and organs, but they don’t spread to other parts of the body.

Generally, 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.

Fibrosarcoma

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

Site in the body

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, the site, the size, 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.

The different subtypes of rhabdomyosarcoma include:

  • embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma
  • alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma
  • pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma

Embryonal and alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is more common in children, while pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma generally occurs in adults.

Pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma

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

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

Site in the body

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.

 Cancerous (malignant) vascular sarcomas

The  types of cancerous (malignant) vascular sarcomas are:

  • angiosarcoma
  • epitheliod 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.

Epitheliod haemangioendothelioma

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

Site in the body

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.

Intermediate vascular tumours

Kaposi's sarcoma

Kaposi's sarcoma is a type of vascular tumour called an intermediate tumour. This means they grow and spread to nearby tissues and organs, but they don’t spread to other parts of the body. 

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 malignant peripheral 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.

Survival for all stages and types of soft tissue sarcomas

Generally, for people with soft tissue sarcoma in the UK:

  • 75 out of 100 people (75%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more after diagnosis
  • almost 55 out of 100 people (almost 55%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • 45 out of 100 people (45%) survive their cancer for 10 years or more after diagnosis

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.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and researchers collect information. They watch what happens to people with cancer in the years after their diagnosis. 5 years is a common time point to measure survival. But some people live much longer than this.

5 year survival is the number of people who have not died from their cancer within 5 years after diagnosis.

More statistics

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

Last reviewed: 
13 Sep 2021
Next review due: 
13 Sep 2024
  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma Incidence and Survival Tumours Diagnosed in England Between 1985 and 2009
    National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), 2012 

  • The 2020 WHO Classification of Soft Tissue Tumours: news and perspectives

    M Sbaraglia and others

    Pathologica - Journal of the Italian Society of Anatomic Pathology and Diagnostic Cytopathology, November 2020

  • Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (West Midlands), on request, 2013.

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