What are the treatment options for soft tissue sarcoma?

Because sarcoma is rare, most oncologists treat few if any patients in their careers. Statistics show that sarcoma patients have better outcomes when they are treated at large comprehensive cancer centers where specialized oncologists have more experience with the disease. 

Sarcoma Treatments

Sarcomas usually are treated with a combination of therapies that may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. If you are diagnosed with sarcoma, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including:

  • The location and type of sarcoma

  • If the cancer has spread

  • Possible impact on your body

  • Your general health

Your treatment for sarcoma will be customized to your particular needs. It may include one or more of the following.


Surgery is the main treatment for soft-tissue sarcomas. The surgeon removes the tumor, as well as a margin of healthy tissue around it to take out as many cancer cells as possible. You may receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy before or after the surgery.

Because of a special type of surgery called limb-sparing surgery, which often is followed with radiation therapy, most patients do not have to have arms or legs removed to treat sarcoma.


Chemotherapy may be used as the main treatment for sarcoma or with surgery or radiation. A combination of two or more chemotherapy drugs may be used. Sometimes limb profusion, a special way to give a more focused dose of chemotherapy may be used.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy usually is not used as the main treatment for sarcoma, but it may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to destroy remaining cancer cells. If you cannot have surgery, you may receive radiation therapy to help with pain and other symptoms… Radiation treatments [include]:

  • Brachytherapy: Tiny radioactive seeds are placed in the body close to the tumor

  • 3D-conformal radiation therapy: Several radiation beams are given in the exact shape of the tumor

  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT): Treatment is tailored to the specific shape of the tumor

Proton Therapy

Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly to the tumor site, sparing nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. For some patients, this therapy results in better cancer control with less impact on the body.

Clinical Trials

via MD Anderson Cancer Center