Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of developing cancer, but probably will not directly cause cancer — some people with several risk factors will never develop cancer, and others with no known risk factors will. Being aware of your risk factors and discussing them with a healthcare professional can help you be informed and make healthier choices. Some of the risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma include:

Radiation exposure

Previous radiation therapy, for example to treat another type of cancer, can lead to increased cancer risk. However, this is a small risk increase, and the benefit of using radiation therapy to treat cancer outweighs the possible risk of soft tissue sarcoma.

Genetic conditions

Inherited diseases such as retinoblastoma, Werner syndrome, type I neurofibromatosis, and Gardner syndrome can predispose to the development of sarcomas.

Chronic lymphedema

Lymphedema is a common side effect of cancer treatment, but this condition can also be present at birth. Sarcomas can sometimes form in lymph vessels where lymphedema has developed.

Viral infections

Certain infections can predispose to soft tissue sarcomas, as can autoimmune conditions such as lupus or psoriasis. For example, herpes and HIV have been linked to an increased risk of Kaposi sarcoma.

Chemical exposure

Exposure to certain chemicals, such as vinyl chloride (used in the manufacturing of PVC) and herbicides (used in farming), can increase your sarcoma risk.


Information taken from Cancer.net.