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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Synovial sarcoma


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Your Question

I need to know more information about synovial sarcoma. My aunt was diagnosed with this condition, which showed up in her kidney and then spread all over her abdominal area. I want to understand more about it in terms of genetics and the outcome of patients. I can't find much research since it is so rare and any alternative treatments.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is synovial sarcoma?

Synovial sarcoma is a rare and aggressive soft tissue sarcoma. In the early stages of the condition, it may cause no noticeable signs or symptoms. However, as the tumor grows larger, affected people may notice a lump or swelling. In some cases, the tumor can limit range of motion or cause numbness and/or pain if it presses on nearby nerves. Although synovial sarcoma does not have a clearly defined cause, genetic factors are believed to influence the development of this disease. Cells in these tumors are usually characterized by the presence of a translocation involving chromosomes X and 18. This translocation is specific to synovial sarcoma and is often used to diagnose the condition. Treatment generally includes a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.[1][2][3]
Last updated: 9/10/2015

What are the signs and symptoms of synovial sarcoma?

In the early stages of the condition, synovial sarcoma may cause no noticeable signs or symptoms. However, as the tumor grows larger, affected people may notice a lump or swelling. In some cases, the tumor can limit range of motion or cause numbness and/or pain if it presses on nearby nerves. The symptoms of synovial sarcoma can be mistaken for those of inflammation of the joints (arthritis) or other non-cancerous conditions that cause inflammation such as bursitis and synovitis.[1][2]
Last updated: 9/9/2015

What causes synovial sarcoma?

The exact underlying cause of synovial sarcoma is poorly understood. However, studies show that a certain genetic change is identified in more than 90% of cases. More specifically, a translocation between chromosome X and chromosome 18 appears to play a role in the development of synovial sarcoma. This alteration is known as a somatic mutation because it only develops in some cells of the body during a person's lifetime and is not inherited.[1]

Certain inherited conditions such as Li Fraumeni syndrome or neurofibromatosis type 1 are associated with an increased risk of developing synovial sarcoma and other forms of soft tissue sarcoma. Some studies suggest that exposure to radiation therapy and/or certain chemical carcinogens may also be risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma.[2]
Last updated: 9/9/2015

How is synovial sarcoma diagnosed?

A diagnosis of synovial sarcoma may first be suspected based on the presence of characteristic signs and symptoms. Additional testing can then be ordered to confirm the diagnosis, determine the severity of the condition and inform treatment options. These tests may include:[1][3]
Medscape Reference's Web site offers more specific information regarding the diagnosis of synovial sarcoma. Please click on the link to access this resource.
Last updated: 9/9/2015

How might synovial sarcoma be treated?

The treatment of synovial sarcoma depends on the age of the person; the size and location of the tumor and the severity of the disease. The most common treatment is surgery to remove the entire tumor. In some cases, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may also be necessary before and/or after the surgery. When given before surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may reduce the size of the tumor, allowing less tissue to be removed. These therapies may be given after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence.[1][3]

The National Cancer Institute's Web site offers more specific information regarding the treatment and management of synovial sarcoma and other forms of soft tissue sarcoma. Please click on the link to access this resource.
Last updated: 9/9/2015

What is the long-term outlook for people with synovial sarcoma?

The long-term outlook (prognosis) for people with synovial sarcoma depends on many factors, including the size, grade and stage of the tumor; where the tumor is located; and the affected person's age and overall health. In general, synovial sarcoma has a survival rate of 50-60% at 5 years and 40-50% at 10 years. Recurrence has been reported up to 69 months after treatment and suggests a worse prognosis with low survival rates.[1][3]
Last updated: 9/10/2015

How can I learn about current research involving synovial sarcoma?

You can obtain information about clinica trials by calling the National Cancer Institute Cancer Information Service (CIS) toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). CIS provides the most current information on cancer for patients, health professionals, and the general public.

NCI Public Inquiries Office
6116 Executive Blvd., Room 3036A
Bethesda, MD 20892-8322
Toll free: 1-800-422-6237
TTY: 800-332-8615
Online form: http://www.cancer.gov/global/contact/email-us
Web site: http://www.cancer.gov/aboutnci/cis

Additionally, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed ClinicalTrials.gov to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. Currently, several clinical trials are identified as enrolling individuals with synovial sarcoma. To find these trials, click here. After you click on a study, review its 'eligibility' criteria to determine its appropriateness. Use the study's contact information to learn more. Check this site often for regular updates. You can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling the toll-free number listed below to speak with a specialist, who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials.

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office
NIH Clinical Center
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2655
Toll-free: 800-411-1222
Fax: 301-480-9793
E-mail: prpl@mail.cc.nih.gov
Web site: http://clinicalcenter.nih.gov/

If you are interested in enrolling in a clinical trial, you can find helpful general information on clinical trials at the following ClinicalTrials.gov Web page.
http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/info/understand

Resources on many charitable or special-fare flights to research and treatment sites and low-cost hospitality accommodations for outpatients and family members, as well as ambulance services, are listed on the Web site of the Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR), part of the National Institutes of Health.
http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/Resources.aspx?PageID=8
Last updated: 9/10/2015

References
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.