Treatment for soft tissue sarcoma may include surgery, radiation therapy, drug therapies, or a combination of treatments.
Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) is a type of cancer that forms in the body’s soft tissues.
This article outlines the types of medical treatment available for STS.
It also discusses some complementary therapies.
Surgery is the
- the type of STS
- tumor grade, size, and stage
- tumor location
- whether surgery can remove all of the tumor
- if the cancer is new or recurring
- the age and overall health of the person
Does the cancer stage influence treatment?
Treatment may include targeted therapy and immunotherapy drugs for specific types of advanced STS.
A team of doctors may treat soft tissue sarcoma. This team
- Orthopedic surgeon: This surgeon specializes in bone, muscle, and joint diseases. They may work with people who have sarcomas in the arms or legs.
- Surgical oncologist: This surgeon treats cancer, focusing on sarcomas in the abdominal area.
- Medical oncologist: This doctor specializes in treating cancer with drugs, such as chemotherapy.
- Radiation oncologist: This doctor specializes in treating cancer with radiation therapy.
- Thoracic surgeon: This surgeon treats diseases of the chest and lungs and focuses on sarcomas in the chest area.
- Physiatrist: This rehabilitation doctor specializes in treating conditions that affect movement.
According to the
Soft tissue sarcomas can be difficult to treat, so working with a team of healthcare professionals with experience and expertise in sarcoma treatment is essential.
Surgery aims to remove the tumor and
It is the
Surgery may include the following procedures:
- Mohs micrographic surgery: A surgeon cuts away the tumor in thin layers, removing a layer at a time until a microscope cannot detect any more cancer cells.
- Wide local excision: A surgeon removes the tumor and some surrounding, normal tissue.
- Limb-sparing surgery: This type of surgery removes a tumor in an arm or leg without the need for amputation. People may first have chemotherapy or radiation therapy to shrink the tumor.
- Lymph node dissection: This is surgery to remove any lymph nodes that may be cancerous.
- Amputation: In rare cases, surgeons remove an arm or leg to treat STS.
A person may also have radiation therapy as the main treatment option if surgery is unsuitable. Types of radiation therapy for STS include:
- External beam radiation: People may have external beam radiation daily over several weeks — it is the most common type of radiation therapy for sarcomas. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy is a technique that reduces damage to normal tissue as much as possible.
- Intraoperative radiation therapy: People receive a large dose of radiation straight after surgery, which means the radiation does not pass through healthy tissue.
- Internal radiation therapy: During surgery, a surgeon places small pellets of radioactive material near the STS.
Immunotherapy drugs help support the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
Certain proteins, known as checkpoint proteins, can sometimes prevent the body from destroying cancer cells. Immune checkpoint inhibitors
Checkpoint inhibitors for STS
PD-1 inhibitors include pembrolizumab (Keytruda). This may be a treatment option for advanced STS. PD-L1 inhibitors, such as atezolizumab (Tecentriq), may help treat alveolar soft-part sarcoma.
People may have intravenous chemotherapy to treat STS. Chemotherapy drugs target the whole body, so doctors
Chemotherapy can be the main treatment or an additional treatment to surgery, depending on the stage and type of STS.
Chemotherapy drugs for treating sarcoma include:
- ifosfamide (Ifex)
- doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
- dacarbazine (DTIC)
Targeted drug therapy is a treatment that targets cancer cells specifically,
People usually take targeted therapies to treat STS orally. They include tyrosine kinase inhibitors and histone methyltransferase inhibitors.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors help prevent cancer cells from growing and dividing. Examples include pazopanib, imatinib, regorafenib, and sunitinib.
Histone methyltransferase inhibitors, which help prevent cancer cells from growing, include tazemetostat.
Complementary therapies are treatments people may have
- tai chi
- massage therapy
- art therapy
- music therapy
- spirituality and prayer
People must discuss complementary therapies with their healthcare team before trying them alongside medical care.
Surgery is the most common treatment for soft tissue sarcoma. If surgery cannot remove a tumor completely, people may also have chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
A person can have targeted therapy or immunotherapy for certain types of sarcomas or those in the more advanced stages.
Various complementary therapies may help reduce treatment side effects. People should first discuss these with a doctor.