Disease Information

Sarcoma Treatment Options

For each stage of soft tissue sarcoma, there are different treatment options available.

Standard Sarcoma Treatments

There are four standard types of treatment used for the treatment of adult soft tissue sarcoma.

1. Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment of soft tissue sarcoma. For some soft-tissue sarcomas, surgical removal of the tumor may be the only treatment needed. The following surgical procedures may be used to remove sarcoma:

  • Mohs microsurgery
  • Wide local excision
  • Limb-sparing surgery
  • Amputation
  • Lymphadenectomy

2. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy:

  1. External radiation therapy
  2. Internal radiation therapy

3. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a group of medicines used to treat cancer. While surgery and radiation therapy target specific areas of cancer, chemotherapy works throughout the body and can destroy cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) from the original tumor site.

4. Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression. Targeted therapies are considered a chemotherapy drug, but they work differently than traditional chemotherapy drugs. They are able to identify the cancerous cells and attack them while leaving the normal, healthy cells alone.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment Option, by Stage

Some of the options that may be offered by your doctor are as follows:

Stage I Sarcoma:

  • Surgery (wide local excision, limb-sparing surgery, or Mohs microsurgery).
  • Radiation therapy before and/or after surgery.

If cancer is found in the head, neck, abdomen, or chest, treatment may include the following:

  • Surgery.
  • Radiation therapy before or after surgery.
  • Fast neutron radiation therapy.

Stages II and III adult soft tissue sarcoma treatments include:

  • Surgery (wide local excision).
  • Surgery (wide local excision) with radiation therapy, for large tumors.
  • High-dose radiation therapy for tumors that cannot be removed by surgery.
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy before limb-sparing surgery. Radiation therapy may also be given after surgery.
  • A clinical trial of surgery followed by chemotherapy, for large tumors.

Stage IV adult soft tissue sarcoma:

If the disease has spread to the lymph nodes, treatment may include the following treatments:

  • Surgery (wide local excision) with or without lymphadenectomy. Radiation therapy may also be given after surgery.
  • Radiation therapy before and after surgery.
  • A clinical trial of surgery followed by chemotherapy.

Treatment of stage IV adult soft tissue sarcoma that involves internal organs of the body may include the following:

  • Surgery (wide local excision).
  • Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, followed by radiation therapy.
  • High-dose radiation therapy, with or without chemotherapy, for tumors that cannot be removed by surgery.
  • Chemotherapy with 1 or more anticancer drugs, before surgery or as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.
  • A clinical trial of chemotherapy with or without stem cell transplant.
  • A clinical trial of chemotherapy following surgery to remove cancer that has spread to the lungs.

Treatment for recurrent adult soft tissue sarcoma may be somewhat different and will be guided by your cancer treatment team of physicians and nurses.