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  • Synovial Sarcoma

    Synovial sarcoma is a type of soft tissue sarcoma that usually occurs near the joints in the arm, neck, and leg, although they can occur anywhere in the body.

    They were once associated with synovial joints, but there is in fact no connection between the two. The cause and origin of synovial sarcoma is not known, but in 90% of cases there is the same chromosomal defect found.

    They occur most often in patients under the age of 30. There are approximately 2.75 cases diagnosed per 100,000 people. In the United States there are approximately 800 new cases reported each year and they make up 5-10% of all soft cell sarcoma.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Synovial sarcomas often show no signs or symptoms. Once they grow large enough they might present as a swelling or mass. They can also be deep and painful. Some patients experience general symptoms of tumors including fatigue. Synovial sarcoma can spread and when they do they most often spread to the lungs.


    Initial tests in diagnosing synovial sarcomas include a physical exam and blood tests. A CT scan or an MRI helps doctors determine the size, location and mass of the tumor. A bone scan will let them know if bone is involved and a biopsy can offer further information about the tumor.


    Surgery is the most common treatment path for patients with synovial sarcoma. Complete removal of the tumor, along with a margin of 1-3 cm, can lead to a full recovery. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible so radiation and chemotherapy are often used in combination with surgery.

    The location of the tumor or its proximity to other healthy tissues can prevent it from being safely removed. Chemotherapy can reduce the number of cancerous cells and radiotherapy helps to reduce the chance of the cancer coming recurring.


    The prognosis for those suffering from synovial sarcoma varies greatly depending on the size, location and stage of the tumor. Since synovial sarcoma can also spread, whether or not it has done so already, is also an important factor in determining prognosis. In general there is a better prognosis for synovial sarcoma that is found in the hands, feet and ankles. Chemotherapy has been shown to slightly improve a patient’s prognosis.

    If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, prognosis is generally worse. There have been great improvements diagnosing and treating synovial sarcoma in the last 20 years. The five-year survival rate is 50% – 60% and the 10-year survival rate is 40% – 50%.