What is the treatment for sarcoma?
Depending the location, grade, type, and size of the tumor there are several treatments available for a person diagnosed with sarcoma, including sarcoma radiation therapy. You should consult your cancer doctor to discuss the appropriate treatment. These treatments include the following:
- Sarcoma Radiation Therapy
- Sarcoma Brachytherapy
The goal of surgery is the removal of the tumor. Usually a small extra margin of nearby tissue is also taken out. Amputation was often used in the past for most patients with sarcoma found in the extremity. However, when combined with radiation, amputation can be avoided in almost all patients with sarcomas of the extremity. This type of limb-sparing surgery is what is performed most often today. Abdominal or retroperitoneal sarcomas are a little more difficult to surgically remove due to the vital organs that may be next to the mass.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be taken orally (by a pill) or through a needle in the vein or muscle. The medication enters the blood stream, travels through the body, and kills cancer cells throughout the body; this is sometimes called systemic therapy. Chemotherapy that is given after surgery when no cancer cells can be seen is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
The most commonly used drugs are ifosfamide and doxorubicin. Sometimes other drugs such as dacarbazine, methotrexate, vincristine, cisplatin, paclitaxel, and others are added in combination. When several drugs are used together, the combination is given a shortened name such as: MAID (combined mesna, doxorubicin [Adriamycin], ifosfamide, and dacarbazine) or AIM (doxorubicin [Adriamycin], ifosfamide, and mesna). Mesna is a drug used to protect the bladder from the severe irritation often caused by ifosfamide.
Radiation Oncology Sarcoma Treatment
Sarcoma radiation therapy (sometimes in conjunction with chemotherapy) may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor and allow complete resection. After surgery, additional (adjuvant) sarcoma radiation therapy is sometimes used to kill any cancer cells that remained after surgery and to reduce the chances of the tumor returning in the area of its origin.
Sarcoma radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses x-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.
There are two ways of delivering radiation to the cancer:
- External Radiation: External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is the most common form of radiation therapy. The treatment machine (linear accelerator) directs beams of high-energy radiation at the tumor. The machine can change position so that the beams can enter the body from any angle. External radiation therapy is usually given in daily treatments of few minutes each over several weeks, typically 5 days a week for 5 to 6 weeks.
- Internal Radiation: Internal sarcoma radiation therapy (brachytherapy) delivers a high dose of radiation to a small area by using one or more implants (radioactive sources) placed in or around the tumor. These implants can be temporary or permanent.
The radiation oncologist will select the type of therapy that is most suitable for a particular type of cancer. Radiation therapy can also be used to palliate (ease) symptoms of sarcoma when it has spread to other body organs.
The medical oncologist will select the type of therapy treatment that is most suitable for a particular type of cancer.
Types of Treatment