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Disease Information

Sarcoma Staging

After a patient has been diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, the doctor will perform tests to find out the grade and size of the tumor. Also, to determine if the cancer has spread to surrounding soft tissues or other areas of the body. This is called staging, and the information gathered from this process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to determine the best treatment plan for each patient.

Tests Used to Determine Stage of Soft Tissue Sarcoma

The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:

  • Physical exam
  • Chest x-rays
  • Blood tests, including a complete blood count and blood chemistry
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scan

The stages of soft tissue sarcoma include:

Stage I

Divided into Stages IA and IB:

  • Stage IA - the tumor is low-grade (likely to grow and spread slowly) and 5 centimeters or smaller. It may be either superficial (in subcutaneous tissue with no spread into connective tissue or muscle below) or deep (in the muscle and may be in the connective or subcutaneous tissue).
  • Stage IB - the tumor is low-grade (likely to grow and spread slowly) and larger than 5 centimeters. It may be either superficial or deep in the tissue.

Stage II

Divided into Stages IIA and IIB:

  • Stage IIA - the tumor is mid-grade (somewhat likely to grow and spread quickly) or high-grade (likely to grow and spread quickly) and 5 centimeters or smaller. It may be either superficial or deep in the tissue.
  • Stage IIB - the tumor is mid-grade (somewhat likely to grow and spread quickly) and larger than 5 centimeters. It may be either superficial or deep in the tissue.

Stage III

The tumor is either:

  • High-grade (likely to grow and spread quickly), larger than 5 centimeters, and either superficial or deep in the tissue; or
  • Any grade, any size, and has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IV

The tumor is any grade, any size, and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the lungs.