Learning About Surgery to Remove Soft Tissue Tumors in Children

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Types of soft tissue, including nerves, muscle and connective tissue, lymph vessels, blood vessels, and fat

What are soft tissue tumors?

A soft tissue tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the body's soft tissues These tissues include muscles, lymph and blood vessels, nerves, and fat. Most soft tissue tumors are benign (say "bih-NYN"). This means they aren't cancer. But some aren't benign. Soft tissue tumors that are cancer are also called sarcomas.

Why is this surgery done?

Some soft tissues tumors can be watched over time. These may not need to be removed. But there are reasons your child may need to have a soft tissue tumor removed. A tumor may need to be removed if:

  • It causes pain or problems with movement.
  • It's likely to cause problems to nearby tissue, blood vessels, or nerves.
  • It bothers your child. Or maybe your child or you don't like the way it looks.
  • The doctor needs to test the tumor for cancer.
  • The tumor is cancer.

How is it done?

Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. Your child will be asleep during the surgery.

How the doctor removes the tumor depends on the type of tumor it is. It also depends on whether it affects nearby tissue. Some tumors can be removed with a small incision (cut). For others, the doctor may need to take some extra tissue from around the edges of the tumor too. If a lot of tissue needs to be removed, your child may get skin grafts to repair the wound.

What can you expect afterward?

Each child recovers from surgery at a different pace. The time it takes for your child to heal will depend on several things, such as where the tumor was and how it was removed.

You will be given instructions about how to care for your child at home. These instructions will include information about things like incision care and when it's okay for your child to return to normal activity.

Your child may have follow-up visits to the doctor after surgery. If the tumor was cancer, your child will likely need more treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.