HOW ARE SARCOMAS TREATED?

Sarcoma treatments vary by tumor type, grade, and stage, but nearly all sarcomas are treated with surgery when possible.

  • Currently, there are no effective drugs available for the treatment of liposarcoma.

  • Surgery is the treatment for primary sarcoma or liposarcomas that have not yet spread to other organs. In most cases, a surgeon will remove the tumor along with a wide margin of healthy tissue around the tumor.

  • The combination of surgery and radiation therapy has been shown to prevent recurrence at the surgical site in about 85%-90% of the cases. These results vary depending on the subtype of sarcoma.

  • The role of chemotherapy in the treatment of sarcoma or liposarcoma is not clearly defined. It may be recommended in certain situations where patients are at high risk of recurrence or already have widespread disease.

  • Radiation therapy may be used before, during or after surgery to kill tumor cells and reduce the change of the tumor returning in the same location.

  • The ultimate goal of the sarcoma or liposarcoma research is to help speed promising new drugs through the clinical trial process into clinical use.

Sarcoma treatments vary by tumor type, grade and stage, but nearly all sarcomas are treated with surgery when it is possible. The goal of surgery is to remove all disease from the affected area(s). Some low-grade tumors only require surgery, but many sarcomas are treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy in order to prevent or get rid of disease that spreads throughout the body. These treatments may be necessary before or after surgery.

The duration and intensity of sarcoma therapy can be surprising and disheartening to patients and their families, and coping with the side effects of treatments can be a challenge. Many patients and their families choose to join support groups, which can be a great source of information and strength. Families can also seek counseling and support services at cancer centers and local charitable organizations. Learn more about sarcoma treatment.


[My favorite part of my job is] finding out treatment options for patients who have no conventional treatment options left based on scientific information on their tumor. It requires a lot of research and creativity to figure out the best treatment option.
— Dr. K. Kumar Sankhala, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

are sarcomas curable?

Many sarcomas are curable, particularly (a) low grade malignancies which only require surgery and (b) the pediatric sarcomas. Still, many physicians don’t use the term “cure” when talking about sarcoma. Peter J Buecker, MD, explains:

As opposed to most types of carcinoma, there is really no time when a “cure” is felt to have been definitively achieved. Sarcoma is a life long diagnosis, and should be treated as such.  Having said this, most recurrences or metastases will be discovered within the first two to five year mark, the risk of recurrence diminishes greatly, but still certainly exists.

Because sarcomas can return long after an initial diagnosis, survivors have regular check-ups for many years after treatment ends.