Soft-Tissue Sarcomas

Soft-tissue sarcomas are rare malignancies that arise from the muscles and connective tissues. These tumors most often occur in the arms or legs, but may occur anywhere in the body.

The main treatment for soft-tissue sarcomas is surgery.  If the tumor is not very aggressive and can be removed with a wide margin, this is the only treatment that is necessary.  However, if the tumor contains a very aggressive cell type (histologically high-grade), if it is believed that surgical margins will be close to the tumor, or (if surgery was the first step in treatment) if the margins from the operation were close, radiation therapy is used either before the operation or shortly afterward to reduce the chance that the cancer will recur and improve the odds of cure.

An additional reason to use radiation treatments is if the sarcoma involves an arm or leg and it is likely that an amputation would be required to remove it surgically. Radiation therapy may be given so that a lesser operation may be performed with preservation of a functional limb.

The radiation therapy is usually given once or twice a day over 4 to 6 weeks, depending on whether it is given before or after surgery.

Although chemotherapy may also be used in the treatment of sarcomas, most soft-tissue sarcomas are not treated with chemotherapy.