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Synovial Sarcoma Treatment

Synovial sarcoma is a type of soft tissue sarcoma. It is a cancer that starts in the soft tissues near the joints. It sometimes occurs in the kidneys and lungs.

Synovial sarcoma has no known risk factors. But genetics may play a role in its growth.

Synovial sarcoma is rare. It is somewhat more common in males. About 800 new cases of synovial sarcoma are diagnosed in the United States each year. 

Synovial sarcoma symptoms

Synovial sarcoma tumors often grow slowly. It may be a long time before they cause symptoms. They appear near the affected area, usually in the hands, lower leg, or feet.

Symptoms may include:

  • A mass or swelling near the affected area, often painless
  • Problems using 1 or both legs, feet, arms, or hands
  • Pain near the affected area if the tumor invades an area with a lot of nerves
  • Problems with bodily functions near the affected area, such as breathing problems if the tumor is near the neck

Synovial sarcoma diagnosis

Several tests are used to diagnose synovial sarcoma. These include:

  • A health history, physical exam, and blood tests to learn about symptoms, general health, past illnesses, and risk factors
  • MRI or CT scan
  • Biopsy
  • Full-body imaging using bone scans or PET scans to look for cancer that has spread to bone and to other areas of the body

Synovial sarcoma treatment

Surgery to remove the tumor is the main treatment.

Sometimes children need more treatment. This depends on the size of the tumor and how it looks under a microscope.

Other treatments may include:

  • Chemotherapy (“chemo”) uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells or stop them from spreading. It may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to remove any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be used on its own to treat synovial sarcoma that has spread or is hard to reach by surgery.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. This treatment may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor. It may be used after surgery to remove any cancer cells left behind.

Synovial sarcoma prognosis

The survival rates for people with synovial sarcoma have improved during the past 20 years because of advances in surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

The factors that lead to better outcomes include:

  • Small tumor size — less than 5cm wide
  • A tumor that is easy to remove by surgery
  • A tumor that has not spread (metastasized)
  • Tumor location in arm or leg
  • Younger age

The survival rate for synovial sarcoma ranges from 36–76%. But each person’s experience is unique. Results are hard to predict. The survival rate for synovial sarcoma is lower in cases where the cancer has returned or spread.

Synovial sarcoma care at St. Jude

St. Jude provides the highest quality of care for patients with synovial sarcoma:

  • New radiation treatments such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and proton beam radiation therapy may be used to decrease the side effects of treatment.
  • St. Jude has a special team of experts who perform limb-sparing surgery in children with synovial sarcoma if needed.
  • St. Jude offers a dedicated team of specialists to meet the needs of children with cancer, including:

More reasons to choose St. Jude for care include:

  • We are consistently ranked among the best childhood cancer centers in the nation by US News & World Report. 
  • At St. Jude, we have created an environment where children can be children and families can be together.   
  • We lead more clinical trials for childhood cancer than any other hospital in the U.S.  
  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center just for children. A Comprehensive Cancer Center meets rigorous standards for research that develops new and better approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. 
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is about 1:3 in hematology and oncology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit. 
  • Patients may be able to get expert, compassionate care and treatment closer to their homes through the St. Jude Affiliate Program. 

Synovial sarcoma clinical trials

St. Jude offers clinical trials and cancer research studies for children, teens, and young adults with synovial sarcoma. Learn more about clinical research at St. Jude.

NRSTS2021: A Risk Adapted Study Evaluating Maintenance Pazopanib, Limited Margin, Dose-Escalated Radiation Therapy, and Selinexor in Non-Rhabdomyosarcoma Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Study goal:

The purpose of this clinical trial is to find better treatments for NRSTS patients who are intermediate- and high-risk. Our goal is to lower the risk of the tumor coming back after treatment, while using treatments with fewer risks of long-term side effects.


Up to 30 years old.

A statue of children running and holding hands

Seeking treatment at St. Jude

Patients accepted to St. Jude must have a disease we treat and must be referred by a physician or other qualified medical professional. We accept most patients based on their ability to enroll in an open clinical trial.

How to seek treatment

Contact the Physician / Patient Referral Office

Call: 1-888-226-4343 (toll-free) or 901-595-4055 (local)  | Fax: 901-595-4011 | Email: | 24-hour pager: 1-800-349-4334

The solid tumor coordinator is dedicated to helping you seek treatment or refer a patient.

Solid Tumor Coordinator


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