If you’ve been diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, you may wonder which treatment options are right for you and what to expect. Your physician will help you determine the right treatment approach based on your sarcoma’s grade and stage, along with your family history and overall health. The most common treatment options for soft tissue sarcoma include:
- Targeted drug therapy
You may need a combination of these therapies.
Sarcoma Treatment Team
Depending on the type of sarcoma you have, your treatment team may include:
- A surgical oncologist who treats sarcomas of the abdomen with surgery.
- An orthopedic surgeon who treats sarcomas in the arms and legs.
- A thoracic surgeon who treats sarcomas in the chest and lungs.
- A medical oncologist who treats cancer with chemotherapy.
- A radiation oncologist who uses radiation therapy to treat cancer.
- A physiatrist who specializes in rehabilitation during and after diagnosis and treatment.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma Surgery
Surgery is the most common treatment approach for soft tissue sarcoma. Your treatment team may recommend one of the following procedures:
- Mohs microsurgery: This is a procedure in which the tumor is removed from the skin in thin layers. During the surgery, the surgeon views the edges and each layer of the tumor through a microscope and removes layers of tissue until they can no longer see cancer cells. Mohs microsurgery spares as much healthy tissue as possible.
- Wide local excision: During this procedure, the tumor is removed along with some healthy tissue surrounding it.
- Limb-sparing surgery: This procedure removes a tumor in the arm or leg with a wide local excision. You may need radiation therapy or chemotherapy prior to surgery to help shrink the tumor.
- Lymphadenectomy: A procedure to remove the lymph nodes so they can be checked for signs of cancer.
- Amputation: This is surgery to remove all or part of a limb. Amputation is rarely used for soft tissue sarcoma.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma Chemotherapy
You may need chemotherapy before or after surgery. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop cancer cells from growing, either by killing them or preventing them from replicating.
Chemotherapy can be injected into a vein or muscle or taken by mouth.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other radiation to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing. You may need radiation therapy before surgery to help shrink the tumor or after surgery to target any remaining cancer cells.
The two types of radiation therapy include:
- External radiation therapy: This type uses a machine outside the body to send targeted radiation to the cancer cells.
- Internal radiation therapy: With this form of radiation therapy, a radioactive substance is sealed in seeds, catheters, wires or needles and is placed directly into or near the tumor.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma Targeted Drug Therapy
Targeted therapy involves the use of drugs to find and attack certain cancer cells. This type of treatment can minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissue, which may cause fewer side effects.
Sarcoma Clinical Trials
Your physician may recommend that you participate in a clinical trial to treat soft tissue sarcoma. Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for a clinical trial.
Next Steps After Sarcoma Treatment
During treatment, you may need follow-up tests to ensure the treatment is working. Once you complete sarcoma treatment, you may need regular follow-up visits and testing to ensure the cancer doesn’t return. Talk to your physician if you have any questions about your sarcoma treatment process.