High-Grade Pleomorphic Undifferentiated Sarcoma. 

High-grade Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) is a type of cancer that develops in the soft tissues of your body. These soft tissues have the function of connecting, supporting, and surrounding other body structures.

High-grade Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) usually affects certain organs at a higher rate, like arms and legs. However, very less often, it can also affect the areas behind the retroperitoneum (abdominal organs).

The cancer is called undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma because of the way that cancer appears under a microscope. The word “undifferentiated” means that cells are different from the body tissues in which they grow and develop. At the same time, the cancer is called pleomorphic because the cancer cells grow in multiple sizes and shapes.


There are several treatment options available. However, the type of treatment for UPS depends on the location of the tumor. The main treatment options are surgery, radiation therapy, and the utilization of drugs. Earlier, the cancer was called malignant fibrous histiocytoma.



The exact cause for High-grade  undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma is not clear. However, doctors know that this cancer starts when changes in the DNA of a cell appear. The DNA of a cell has information and instructions for what to do.


However, when the changes occur, the cells start multiplying rapidly, which leads to the formation of a mass of abnormal cells (tumor). The cells then start invading and destroying the nearby healthy tissues.


After some time, the cancer cells spread to other parts like lungs, bones, etc. This is called metastasis. At this stage, it becomes very difficult to contain and control the tumor.  Additionally, there are certain risk factors for High-grade undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma which include:


Older age. Although cancer can occur at any age, people who are older than 50 are more prone to develop  High-grade undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma.

Previous radiation therapy. Very rarely, this cancer can also develop in the areas where radiation therapy was given.


On top of that, you should remember that people who have High-grade undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma do not exhibit any risk factors. While many individuals who have several risk factors, never develop cancer.


The symptoms of High-grade undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma depend on the location of the tumor. Although it can occur anywhere in the body, mostly it affects arms and legs. The main signs and symptoms include:


A lump that grows continuously

Swelling a site of the tumor

Pain, numbness, and tingling develops if cancer grows very large

Swelling in the hand or foot, if the tumor affects the arm or leg.

Loss of appetite, constipation, and pain result if cancer occurs in the abdomen.


Weight loss



Before going for the main tests, your doctor may try to detect your High-grade undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma by reviewing your symptoms and physical examinations. Usually, only after ruling out other types of cancers, your doctor may be able to detect this cancer.


The main tests and procedures include:

Physical exam. Here, a doctor will try to know about your symptoms and whether there was any change in these symptoms. To understand the size and depth of your tumor, he/she will examine your tumor in a better way. This will give him/her an idea about any signs of nerve damage and swelling.


Imaging tests. To get clear pictures of the area of the tumor, your doctor may recommend your imaging tests. These tests will give more information to your doctor. He/she may order imaging tests like rays, MRI, CT, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Biopsy (Removing a sample of tissue for testing). In this procedure, your doctor removes a sample of tissue from your tumor site and then observes it under a microscope.


A technical person will be able to see whether the cells are cancerous or not. Furthermore, your doctor may collect the sample by inserting the needle into your skin. However, the exact method will depend on the particular situation.

Thus, it requires careful planning by a medical team to determine what type of biopsy would be beneficial for you. Your doctor will look for the best way that can help him/her treat your Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS).


The type of surgery should not interfere with future interventions to remove the tumor. This is why your doctor may refer you to an expert team who have great experience in treating soft tissue sarcomas.



Surgery is the main form of treatment for undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma. Other than this, some other methods are also there, which include radiation therapy and drug therapies like chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Depending on the size and location of your tumor, your doctor will choose the best one.


Surgery. Your doctor may try to remove your tumor completely with surgery.  He/she will remove the entire tumor along with some healthy margin of tissue.


However, your surgeon prefers limb-sparing operations when the tumor affects the arms and legs. But, in certain cases, the amputation (cutting) of the arms may become necessary.

Moreover, before the surgery, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy and chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. This way, it becomes easier to remove the tumor without amputating your limb.


Radiation therapy. To kill the tumor cells, this method uses high-energy  X-rays or protons. Your technician may give it as:


External beam radiation. This form of radiation falls on your tumor when the machine moves around you as you lie on a table. In this manner, precise points on your body receive the radiations.

Your doctor may order for radiations to shrink the tumor and kill any remaining tumor cells.


Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT). Your surgeon uses this therapy after the removal of your cancer. He/she directs the radiation to the site where the cancer was present earlier. This is usually helpful at the places where the surgery is not possible and where it is difficult to have surgery.


Chemotherapy. In this treatment, your doctor uses drugs (chemicals) that kill cancerous cells. He/she may give it to you via a vein or pill or both.

Usually, your doctor may use chemotherapy to treat undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma that reverts and has the power of spreading to other body parts. Sometimes, your doctor may use chemotherapy in combination with tumor cells.

Targeted drug therapy. This treatment option works by focusing on the specific characteristics of a cell. Thus, they block some particular functions of the cancer cells, which leads to their death.

Your doctor may use chemotherapy and radiation therapy in combination with this method to treat undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma.

Moreover, certain targeted therapies work only in people with specific genetic mutations. Thus, your doctor will look into if the treatment will work for your body or not.

Immunotherapy. This procedure works by utilizing your immune system to fight against cancer. Usually, your cancer cells produce some proteins which save the cancer cells from your immune system. Immunotherapy interferes with that process and kills your tumor cells. Additionally, your doctor may only give you immunotherapy, when your cancer is in an advanced stag


Coping and support 


When you get diagnosed with High-grade Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS), it could be frightening for you. The condition will be no different for your family.


However, you may learn to cope with the uncertainty and distress related to cancer with time.  Thus, you need to follow these instructions until then;


Call on for medical support:


Various things are going to help you. For instance, the knowledge and understanding of a medical social worker, or any other mental health professional is necessary. They will help you in understanding your cancer.


Furthermore, if your child or other family member suffers from cancer, you need to ask health care professionals for advice. They will provide you with options for medical health support. This will also provide you with emotional and social support.


In addition to this, you can check various online services that will provide you support to combat cancer.


  • Gain more knowledge about High-grade Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS)to make decisionsabout control and care: 


Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to High-grade Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS). Little knowledge is dangerous. Therefore, more confidence in understanding and making decisions about treatment options will be there with you. So you should always learn more about the disease.


Ask the health care team for guidance if your child has cancer. Therefore, get more and more information for appropriately caring for the patient.


Be close to your friends and family:

A close and strong relationship with your family and friends is necessary. It will help you deal with High-grade Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS).


You need practical support, moral support from your friends and relatives. Thus, someone should be there for you to look after the family. Emotional support from them is going to matter most. Thus, a healthy and happy person will ultimately efficiently fight the disease.


Prepare for your appointment


You are likely to start making an appointment with your primary care doctor if some signs and symptoms worry you. Ask for a referral to an experienced specialist if your doctor suspects High-grade Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS).


A team of specialists typically can treat. For instance;

Tumor surgeons who have specialization in operating soft tissue cancers.

Doctors who have a specialization in treating cancers with systemic medications or chemotherapy.

Pathologists diagnose the specific type of cancer by analyzing a tissue.

Rehabilitation specialists who after surgery help in the recovery of a tumor.


What you should expect from your doctor:


You will face several questions from your doctor. Thus, you should be ready to answer these. So, give more time to your doctor to address them. Your doctor may ask;


What signs and symptoms concern you more?


Have your symptoms been occasional or continuous?


When did you start to notice the symptoms?

The severity of your symptoms?


Is there anything that improves your symptoms?


Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?


Do you have any family or personal history of cancer?