Also known as malignant synovioma, this is one of the rarest subtypes of sarcoma (soft tissue cancer). Although synovial tissue makes up the lining of the joints, this type of tumor does not develop from synovial tissue (the origins of the tumor cells are primarily unknown). Soft tissue tumors are usually most common in the legs, arms, pelvis, and the abdominal cavity where synovial sarcoma treatment may be complicated.
Synovial sarcoma is most common on the border of the joints in the arms, legs, and neck. The tumor’s location in proximity to the joints most likely led to early speculation that they were synovial in origin, however, that is not the case.
Like all sarcomas, synovial soft tissue tumors can develop anywhere in the body, and have also been known to develop in organs like the brain, prostate, and heart. Unlike other subtypes of malignant connective tissue tumors like liposarcoma, synovial sarcoma is more common in adolescents and younger adults, with its peak age of diagnosis documented at 30. It is slightly more common among male patients.
While it is one of the rarest forms of soft tissue cancer, synovial sarcoma is one of the most common (15%-20%) to be diagnosed in children and young adults. Due to the young age of the patients and the typical location of tumors, limb preservation is a key consideration of treatment. As a high-grade tumor, there is a significant probability of metastasis (spread) to secondary sites. Schedule a consultation with a skilled orthopedic oncologist in Los Angeles for expert synovial sarcoma treatment.
Causes and Risk Factors for Synovial Sarcoma
A direct cause of connective tissue cancer, including synovial sarcoma, remains generally unknown. Certain genetic factors and hereditary conditions are thought to play a role, and synovial tumors, in particular, do exhibit a specific mutation that may play a role in tumor development. The mutated gene in question in synovial tumors results from a process known as translocation, where parts of two chromosomes switch places, in this case, chromosomes x and 18. It is unclear whether the mutation occurs randomly, or as the result of other preceding factors.
Signs and Symptoms
Soft tissue tumors are usually diagnosed as a result of a lump or mass, and they can be difficult to detect in the early stages due to their location deep within the connective tissue of the body. In some cases, the lump may become painful or tender if it is close enough or large enough to apply pressure on neighboring nerves or blood vessels.
Because synovial sarcoma is located close to the joints in the arms and legs, they may also hinder movement or range of motion, depending on the placement. Tumors located in the head and neck can potentially interfere with essential functions like breathing or speaking if they are close enough to block movement of the vocal chords, for example.
Learn more about synovial sarcoma at cancer.gov.
Malignant Synovioma Treatment in Los Angeles
The most common and effective form of synovial sarcoma treatment is surgical excision of the tumor and a margin of surrounding healthy tissue to prevent the possibility of leaving behind traces of cancer cells from the periphery of the tumor. Chemotherapy, usually in combination with surgery, is also a likely course of synovial sarcoma treatment, depending on the patient and the severity of the tumor. Radiation therapy is also used in some instances.
Some of the questions that determine potential course of treatment include:
- How large the tumor is at the time of diagnosis, and has it spread beyond the original site where it developed?
- How aggressive is it (high grade or low grade) and how likely is it to metastasize?
- If metastasis has occurred, have lymph nodes been affected?
Other Types of Malignant Soft Tissue Sarcoma
There are over 50 subtypes of this form of cancer. Some are more predominant in children, adolescents, and young adults between the ages of 20 and 30, while others are more common in middle age and over the age of 60. Malignant connective tissue tumors (meaning they can develop in muscle, fat, cartilage, ligaments, bone, or the lining of the joints) range from low to high grade, higher grade tumors generally being more aggressive with a higher likelihood to metastasize to other locations in the body.
Other types of malignant connective tissue cancer include:
- Epitheliod sarcoma
- Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST [neurofibrosarcoma])
- Alveolar soft part sarcoma
The prognosis and treatment outcomes vary from patient to patient depending on a number of factors, from the type of sarcoma, the overall health of the patient, and the grade of the tumor, among other factors.
Contact an Orthopedic Surgeon and Sarcoma Specialist in Los Angeles
As one of the rarest subtypes of a very rare form of cancer, synovial sarcoma requires specialized treatment from a surgeon with hands-on knowledge of sarcoma treatment with experience in nerve and limb preservation. To learn more, contact the office of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel C. Allison by calling 310-730-8008 to schedule an appointment today.
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