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What is a Spindle Cell Sarcoma?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Spindle cell sarcoma is a type of cancer which occurs on the connective tissues of the body. The name “spindle cell” comes from the shape the cells appear to have when viewed through a microscope. This type of cancer can occur on nearly any of the onnective tissues of the body, including the stomach, muscles, and lungs. Treatments may vary based on tumor size, progression of the disease, and the patient’s overall health at the time of diagnosis.

Like many cancers, spindle cell sarcoma often presents itself with a tumor. This may be found at a routine checkup or an exam regarding another illness, or symptoms may become apparent leading to an X-ray or sonogram. Symptoms will vary depending on where the cancer is found, although fatigue and a general feeling of malaise are common with most cancers. Upon diagnosis, which generally occurs once a biopsy has been completed, patients will be advised of their options.

Treatments may vary based on the stage of the sarcoma. In most cases the tumor will be removed, unless it is in an inoperable area. After surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two may be required to slow down or stop the growth of new cancer cells. Stage one cancer means that the cells have not moved outside an isolated area. This is the easiest stage of cancer to treat. Stage four means that the cells have migrated to various other locations of the body, and is the most difficult to treat.

Unfortunately, since most cases of spindle cell sarcoma are not caught in the earliest stages, the overall survival rate is less than five years from the date of cancer detection. Since symptoms are often varied and can be confused with other things, this cancer is often not caught until it has spread. For this reason, patients are encouraged to seek medical counsel as soon as they begin noticing unusual symptoms.

Spindle cell sarcoma is a relatively rare form of cancer, and fewer studies have been done on this form when compared to more common forms of cancer. Prevention methods include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding cigarettes and secondhand smoke, and having annual doctor’s visits to discuss any unusual symptoms. Patients are advised to discuss even seemingly mild symptoms because in the rare event that spindle cell sarcoma is present, this may help to catch it in its earliest form.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon999456 — On Jan 09, 2018

First I want to say how each of these stories touched me and I am praying for each of you. We are about to lose our third dog to cancer in a very short time - despite feeding on high quality food. He has spindle cell carcinoma and it is not operable. I immediately put him on cucumin, high protein diet, hemp, mushroom (a particular type for cancer), and Chinese herbs and I am telling you I am seeing a miracle. He is not going to be cured but he is running around again and he was barely able to walk a few weeks ago. I am serious about this - I am a well educated person. I know this method is available to humans via homeopathic doctors. Please, anyone reading this, use this option - it will not hurt and I am confident it will help quality of life and slow things down a bit. Blessings to all of you.

By anon991663 — On Jul 07, 2015

I had a spindle tumor and cancer removed last year. Fortunately I'm doing great. Trying to find the causes of spindle cell tumors. I was exposed to a lot of industrial chemical vapor for 40 years. I am trying to find other people's experiences of what they think might have caused their spindle cell tumors.

By anon353158 — On Oct 28, 2013

I was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma in my breast, stage 3, in June. I had a lumpectomy and lymph node removal. Since then I've finished 33 rounds of radiation. The blisters are healing and my energy level is coming up. There is always hope; never give up! Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I'll pray for you all.

By anon343639 — On Aug 01, 2013

My father was diagnosed after have two green light laser surgeries and a prostatectomy. He underwent cyberknife radiation therapy summer of 2011, was fine for two years and in April 2013 the sarcoma started to grow and invaded his rectum. He then had to have a colostomy and the tumor continued to grow and he passed away in July.

By anon342483 — On Jul 21, 2013

My niece had a lump on her leg and they surgically removed it. Four weeks and four days later they (the doctors) notified them that it was malignant so they sent her to a children's hospital.

A week after they called, the children's hospital finally set her up with an appointment. She goes for her first chemo treatment next week. Please keep her in your prayers.

By anon341787 — On Jul 14, 2013

My mother was diagnosed with this cancer of the breast. She had three rounds of tac chemo --the strongest. It did nothing but make her ill. She had a mastectomy and the cancer returned through her incision. She had another operation --a total of three. Each time they said they got it all.

After the last operation, she had radiation treatments twice a day for a total of 47 treatments. The doctors never told us that radiated skin doesn't heal. She now has a huge open wound. The cancer is spreading so fast there's nothing else to do but to make her comfortable. It makes me so upset to see her like this.

By anon341358 — On Jul 10, 2013

My mother has been diagnosed with spindle cell cancer in her breast. I don't see any posts here by anyone who has known anyone with it located there. She is having a mastectomy on Monday.

By anon311104 — On Dec 29, 2012

I just found out my brother, who is 14, has sarcoma cancer. My only hope is he gets better soon and that all you that have it or know some one who does get better too.

By anon309552 — On Dec 17, 2012

God bless all people who must confront the pain, fear, and debilitation associated with this aggressive form of cancer.

My sister (she was 39) is no longer suffering as she passed from this world in 2009. As family members who watch helplessly, I can only encourage you to be present for your loved one. I pray for the day when this cancer will respond as well as the forms we seem better able to control.

By anon302474 — On Nov 09, 2012

I was just diagnosed. I'm a single mother of a four year old and I have no family. I'm terrified.

By anon293699 — On Sep 27, 2012

I was diagnosed with Spindle Cell Sarcoma in the floor of the mouth and a radical surgery was performed to remove a) floor of mouth b) a part of tongue and c) a part of my jaw bone on the left side of my face. An open flop surgery was performed to replace these with my Fibula, connective tissue and skin.

Now I'm having radiation therapy is on and they are suggesting some chemotherapy to enhance the effects of radiation therapy. All the reports say the cancer is totally removed. Hope for the best.

By anon286624 — On Aug 21, 2012

My adult children's father passed away early this morning. Ten weeks after diagnosis, he was gone. The doctors and research hospitals don't know enough. God bless him and my children.

By anon285486 — On Aug 15, 2012

My ex husband's spindle cell sarcoma spread from a jaw tumor, to the lymph nodes, liver, stomach, kidneys, lungs and was diagnosed two months ago. He's in hospice with two days or so to live. This disease is aggressive and does not have much life expectancy. I feel bad for my children. God bless him and all of you out there. Remember to live each day to its fullest.

By anon280680 — On Jul 19, 2012

A friend of mine was struck down with this nasty cancer as well. Upon learning the difficulty with fighting this cancer she chose to give up and let it take her. It's sad to sit by and see this happen to your loved ones!

I read an article in a local paper about the effectiveness of using lemon to fight all forms of cancer. This has been studied since 1972, although off the top of my head, without looking at the piece, I cannot recall the place. It is factual. Researchers know that lemon is 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy. It destroys all types of cancer cells while leaving normal cells alone. They are hanging on to this information because the drug companies are first trying to find a pill to replicate the effectiveness of this common fruit. I will post again when I get the information to corroborate this information.

By anon275573 — On Jun 18, 2012

My children's father was diagnosed with spindle cell carcinoma. He had it in the left jawbone, nodes, skull, muscles, cheek and it was removed.

He has a trach and must have chemo. He had his tonsils, adenoids and a jaw tumor removed within the last 10 months, but this spindle cell tumor grew back in less than six months, and is worse.

My adult daughters are devastated. I pray for them and for him every day. Please tell me about prognosis and survival. It appears as though survival is not long.

By anon268773 — On May 15, 2012

My daughter Julie (30 years old) has just been diagnosed with high grade spindle cell retroperitoneal sarcoma attached to smooth muscle.

We will be consulting with an oncologist tomorrow morning and expect to be hearing the results from the surgeon's board meeting later in the evening.

The CT scans show a very large tumor (~12cm diameter) but, thankfully, the surgeon is confident that she can remove all of it.

By anon242988 — On Jan 25, 2012

I lost my only sister to this disease six months after diagnosis. She too, was 24.

By anon242664 — On Jan 24, 2012

Last spring, about a year after having a large sarcoma removed from her hip, my mom was diagnosed with stage IV spindle cell sarcoma on her lungs. She completed 12 rounds of chemotherapy which seemed to slow down, but not shrink, the tumors.

She was able to enjoy the holidays without treatment, but found out today that they are growing again and she will need to resume some method of chemo.

My heart goes out to those of you on here who have lost someone to this cancer. I know it will likely take my mom from us, and I can imagine how you are feeling. God bless!

By anon241693 — On Jan 19, 2012

My sister was diagnosed with Spindle Cell Sarcoma last July 2011. She had a sore on her tongue that would not heal. The biopsy showed what it was. She had surgery a few weeks later. By then it was in the lymph nodes in her neck.

We learned today that it has spread to her lungs and lymph nodes in the other side of her neck and under her arm. The doctor said the only option is chemo to slow the spreading. Does anyone know of a cancer center that is successfully treating the cancer?

By anon204107 — On Aug 08, 2011

My girlfriend died of complications of spindle cell. Her appetite had gotten noticeably less and less (I had noticed and commented to her about it.) She said she just wasn't hungry. This went on for about a month. I finally convinced her to go see a doctor, that she couldn't go on not eating.

Originally, we thought maybe she had a gallbladder issue. Her GP thought so too. When we went to get a sonogram prior to visiting the surgeon for gallbladder we were advised that her gallbladder was not visible due to her enlarged liver. The doctor called for a biopsy of her liver and discovered the cancer. They advised that the liver was not the source of the cancer and spindle cell was mentioned for the first time.

The doctors advised that chemo be injected locally via the femoral artery into one half of her liver in an attempt to save as much of the liver as possible. Within a week the cancer had spread to her right lung. She was re-admitted to the hospital. She had her lung tapped and ultimately a chest tube was installed to adequately drain the fluid from the lung.

The doctors advised that the best course of action was to give her full chemotherapy three weeks ahead of the second localized dose. After that, she started having chest pain, general deterioration in cognizance and strength and eventually went on life support. She was removed from the respirator and we were advised there was nothing more medically that could be done. She was transferred to a local hospice where she died three days later.

Within three months of diagnosis she was gone. Words cannot adequately express my grief. This blindsided her, me -- all of us.

By anon189516 — On Jun 23, 2011

Spindle cell sarcoma killed my sister. She was 24 years old. From the date she was diagnosed to the date she died was roughly three years. It is very aggressive.

By anon178553 — On May 21, 2011

My mother was discharged yesterday from MD Anderson Cancer Center and diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma. She began having some discomfort in her abdomen in Feb. 2011 and her blood work showed that she was anemic. Quickly she was fatigued, the pain level kept rising, she was running a small fever in the evenings and stayed so hot that she swore that she must have smoke coming out her ears. She also mentioned a stabbing pain radiating from her belly button area.

Within two weeks of the CT scan that identified the tumors several on the liver and one in the small bowel and waiting on a referral to the cancer center, the tumors had almost doubled in size. Unfortunately the largest tumor has invaded the bowel and there are no options available medically. She has been placed on hospice.

By anon146746 — On Jan 27, 2011

My father was just diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma in the right lung and chest cavity. In hindsight, I can almost detect its onset because of his change in mood and energy level.

He has started chemotherapy since we were told it is only treatable, not curable. He does have pain, both from being post operative and the cancer we are told. It is a very hard cancer to find anything useful or helpful to read up on.

By anon137342 — On Dec 27, 2010

there are no uniform symptoms. if you have a good doctor, they will order a full blood work up. my husband was diagnosed with retroperitoneal high grade spindle cell sarcoma. by the time the tumor was removed it had grown to seven and half pounds.

that was august of 2008. he is doing OK now. he says it's because of me. we have been together for 30 years.

By anon124164 — On Nov 04, 2010

My husband was diagnosed with meningeal spindle cell sarcoma.He was perfectly healthy until hitting his head at work. He developed blurred vision within six hours and then started having numbness/tingling in his left arm/leg. He died 99 days after the diagnosis. He actually became paralyzed in 60 days since the tumor was rapidly traveling down his spine.

He actually aspirated and died from pneumonia. He was doing OK until we agreed to take Chemo, and it totally devastated him. I would definitely not recommend it for this type of cancer.

By galen84basc — On Jul 24, 2010

Spindle cell sarcomas also occur in cats and dogs, particularly in older cats and dogs.

Unfortunately, the diagnosis is very poor, and many pets have to be euthanized because of this cancer.

By pharmchick78 — On Jul 24, 2010

@Planch -- Well, as the article said, the symptoms do vary, and often resemble other conditions.

It also doesn't help that there are four kinds of spindle cell sarcoma. However, there are some symptoms to look out for.

Like bone cancer, spindle cell sarcoma presents with a lot of pain, sometimes with localized swelling. The pain usually worsens at night.

Spindle cell sarcoma is most common in the lower thighs, shins, and arms.

Other common symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, and fever.

By Planch — On Jul 24, 2010

So what are some of the symptoms of spindle cell sarcoma or spindle cell tumors?

I know the article said they varied, but are there any uniform or common symptoms?

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