Synovial sarcoma is a rare cancer that is more commonly diagnosed in people under 40. It is a form of soft tissue sarcoma.
Synovial sarcoma usually occurs in the arms and legs, but it can be diagnosed in all parts of the body and in people of all ages.
The main sign of synovial sarcoma is a painful lump in the arm or leg.
Doctors use imaging to detect synovial sarcoma. These tests typically include MRIs or CTs. The scans can show the size of the tumor, where it started, whether any nearby organs or tissues are involved, and whether the tumor has spread to other areas of the body.
Biopsy is usually the next step. A biopsy is the only test that can make a definite diagnosis of synovial sarcoma. It involves taking a sample of the tumor. That sample is checked under a microscope for cancer cells by a pathologist (a doctor who is specially trained to diagnose disease).
It is very important to receive a diagnosis from a team of doctors that is highly experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue sarcoma. There are more than 80 subtypes of soft tissue sarcoma, so it can be a difficult disease to diagnose. Getting the correct evaluation and diagnosis is the first step to being cured.
The main treatment is surgery to remove the synovial sarcoma. The surgery that’s right for you depends on the exact size and location of the tumor.
For example, limb-sparing surgery allows people with synovial sarcoma in an arm or leg to avoid having the limb removed. Today, thanks to advances in treatment pioneered at MSK and other cancer centers, the vast majority of people with synovial sarcoma in an arm or leg do not need an amputation.
Your doctor may also recommend radiation, chemotherapy, or other drug therapies. These treatments can help prevent the tumor from coming back.
Which combination of treatments is right for you depends on the unique characteristics of the tumor.
For synovial sarcoma that has come back after initial treatment, the soft tissue sarcoma experts at MSK may be able to offer surgery, chemotherapy, or a new treatment approach called immunotherapy.
Our soft tissue sarcoma experts are exploring these and other promising approaches through our program of clinical trials. View a listing of our soft tissue sarcoma clinical trials.
Our synovial sarcoma nomogram is a tool designed to predict the prognosis of someone who has had surgery to remove a tumor. We recommend that you use this tool in partnership with your doctor.