Bone and Soft Tissue Tumour Service

Abdominal and retroperitoneal sarcoma

This page gives you more information about abdominal and retroperitoneal sarcoma.

The most common soft tissue sarcoma types in this area of the body are liposarcoma and leiomyosarcoma.

Some of these sarcomas occur in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or digestive system. These tumours are often gastrointestinal stromal tumours – or GIST for short.

What is a GIST?

Most GISTs are found in the stomach and small bowel, but they can occur anywhere along the GI tract.

The symptoms of GIST may include:

  • tiredness
  • fever and sweating at night
  • discomfort or pain the abdomen or around organs
  • painless lump in the abdomen
  • feeling sick and vomiting
  • weight-loss
  • blood in stools or vomit
  • anemia (low level red blood cells).


Once patients are referred with GIST, tests usually include:

Treatment for abdominal or retroperitoneal sarcoma

Treatment varies according to the location of the tumour and the results of scans. Our team of doctors and nurses discuss each case and talk through the treatment options.

Abdominal and retroperitoneal tumours are usually treated with surgery. The tumour is removed along with a ‘margin’ of healthy tissue where possible to ensure that all the tumour is removed.

In some cases, for example when surgery can’t be carried out – other treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be offered. The chemotherapy for GIST most often involves the following drugs:

These drugs may also be used in combination with surgery to reduce the risk of the tumour returning. This is known as “adjuvant therapy”

Side effects

After surgery for GIST, patients may need dietary advice and support.

Imatinib side-effects can include:

  • tiredness
  • feeling sick
  • diarrhoea
  • swollen ankles
  • puffy eyes
  • itchy rash.

Sunitinib side-effects can include:

  • skin rash and soreness
  • tiredness
  • mouth ulcers
  • high blood pressure.

After treatment

After treatment, patients have regular follow-up appointments for several years. You can discuss your follow-up treatment with your doctor or nurse after your initial treatment.

More information

You can get more details about GIST from:

You can also contact us

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