Cancer & Sarcoma & Synovial Sarcoma

Cancer & Sarcoma & Synovial Sarcoma

January 13, 2011, 5:35 pm

Cancer became an umbrella term for a large group of diseases caused when abnormal cells divide and invade other tissue and organs. However, when most people think of cancer, what comes to mind is carcinoma. This is a cancer of glandular tissue or the lining of organs. This commonly includes types such as breast, ovarian, lung, prostate, and colon cancer.  Collectively, these represent about 95% of all cancers. Cancers are named for the area in which they begin, even if they spread to other parts of the body. For example, a cancer that begins in the lungs and spreads to the liver is still called lung cancer.

Leukemia is a cancer of bone marrow. Lymphoma and myeloma are cancers of the immune system.


Sarcomas are cancers of the connective tissue, such as bone, cartilage, fat, ligaments, etc. Sarcomas are more common among children, accounting for 15 to 20% of paediatric cancers, but become less frequent with increasing age, accounting for approximately only 1% of all adult cancers. It is the most common solid tumour found in young adults today.

Synovial Sarcoma

Synovial sarcoma is a type of soft tissue sarcoma. Soft tissue sarcomas are cancers of the muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue of the body, including synovial tissue. Synovial tissue lines the cavities of joints, such as the knee or elbow, tendons (tissues that connect muscle to bone), and bursae (fluid-filled, cushioning sacs in the spaces between tendons, ligaments, and bones).

Synovial sarcoma is rare. It accounts for between 5 and 10 percent new soft tissue sarcomas reported each year. Synovial sarcoma occurs mostly in young adults, with a median age of 26.5. Approximately 30 percent of patients with synovial sarcoma are younger than 20. This disease occurs more often in men than in women.

About 50 percent of synovial sarcomas develop in the legs, especially the knees. The second most common location is the arms. Less frequently, the disease develops in the trunk, head and neck region, or the abdomen. It is common for synovial cancer to recur (come back), usually within the first two years after treatment. Half of the cases of synovial sarcoma metastasize (spread to other areas of the body) to the lungs, lymph nodes, or bone marrow.

Synovial sarcoma is a slow-growing tumour. Because it grows slowly, a person may not have or notice symptoms for some time, resulting in a delay in diagnosis. The most common symptoms of synovial sarcoma are swelling or a mass that may be tender or painful. The tumour may limit range of motion or press against nerves and cause numbness. The symptoms of synovial sarcoma can be mistaken for those of inflammation of the joints, the bursae, or synovial tissue.

Our information source: NIH, US National Institute of Health and SARC, Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration.