The treatment of a sarcoma depends on the type, location, size and extent of the cancer. Surgical resection or a complete removal of the sarcoma by a surgical oncologist, is an essential part of any curative treatment. Radiation may be used prior to surgery, particularly for larger sarcomas of the extremity, or following surgery. This is used to decrease the size of the tumor prior to operating, or to allow preservation of important structures near the tumor, such as bone or nerves. Chemotherapy is used less frequently in the treatment of sarcomas, and generally limited to treatment of sarcomas that have metastasized. It is also sometimes used in conjunction with radiation.
At Northside, we provide a compassionate, full spectrum of care to patients with:
Individualized treatment for each patient is determined after discussion at our bi-weekly, multidisciplinary conference, and tailored by the team of specialists to maximize cure rates, and minimize permanent dysfunction. Because sarcomas are so rare, they are best treated by a multidisciplinary team comprised of surgical oncologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists who specialize in this type of cancer. Generally, the grade of tumor will determine whether these are aggressive, requiring aggressive treatment.
During your first visit to the Sarcoma Program, we will thoroughly explain and discuss your diagnosis, including a review of your pathology report and/or X-rays, your treatment options and answer any of your questions and concerns. We want to understand your individual needs as a new patient so we can provide the best possible care. To do that, we will obtain a detailed medical history, perform a routine physical exam, and review other relevant medical information (prior labs and test results). We also will arrange for any additional tests, if necessary, and a follow-up appointment to discuss these additional test and treatment options. Diagnostic tests and services during your follow-up exam may include:
We may also refer you to other specialists, depending on your specific health needs. Our goal is to provide you efficient, individualized treatment, so that you can return to your normal activities as soon as possible.
Clinical trials are studies that involve people and are a critical part of oncology research. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat cancer. Northside's Research Program is one of the largest community-based oncology/hematology programs in the nation. Our Sarcoma Program maintains ongoing access to promising National Cancer Institute (NCI) and industry-sponsored clinical trials, which include trials designed to determine the impact of multigene panel molecular tumor profiling in patient management. Learn more about Clinical Trials at Northside.
Your physician will help you decide whether or not radiation therapy would be a beneficial component of your sarcoma treatment. If radiation therapy is needed, the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute offers state-of-the-art radiation therapy techniques that expand patient options.
Radiation therapy may be used to palliate pain or other symptoms associated with sarcoma. It uses precisely shaped beams of high energy to treat cancer cells. The best treatment option depends on the specific type and location of tumor being treated. Radiation therapy may be used as treatment alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy.
Before beginning radiation therapy, a team of medical professionals will use CT, MRI, and/or PET imaging scans to accurately localize the area to be treated. Then, an advanced treatment planning process will allow us to spare normal tissue in proximity to the tumor. Two categories of radiation therapy are available: external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy.
In EBRT, a sophisticated treatment machine (called a linear accelerator) produces high-energy X-rays that shape multiple beams or arcs of radiation, carefully conforming to the shape or volume of the tumor. This spares surrounding healthy tissues. EBRT may be delivered as stationary beams that match the tumor shape (3-D conformal radiation therapy) or as dynamic beams that intricately change shape to produce refined radiation fields that spare healthy tissues very close to the tumor. Each of these treatments is combined with leading-edge imaging technologies that help precisely match the radiation beams to the treatment area just before the X-ray beam is turned on, or even real-time during treatment. EBRT typically lasts for 10-20 minutes at each session, five sessions per week, and may be prescribed by your Radiation Oncologist for about three to six weeks in total.
Brachytherapy implants, sometimes called high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, use a small but highly radioactive metal seed to treat disease with high dose of radiation, while sparing surrounding healthy tissues. An applicator/catheter may be placed at the time of surgery. At the time of brachytherapy treatment, radioactive seeds are placed within the catheter to deliver the radiation dose to the tumor or tumor bed. HDR brachytherapy treatments typically last for 10-20 minutes, and may be prescribed from 1-3 times per week for about five treatments.
Chemotherapy involves the use of medicine to treat cancer. More than half of all people diagnosed with cancer receive chemotherapy. The thought of having chemotherapy may be frightening, but for millions of people, this approach is effective and gets them back to enjoying full, productive lives. Many side effects once associated with chemotherapy can now be prevented or controlled, allowing people to go on with their normal activities during treatment. Chemotherapy may be administered intravenously, injected into a body cavity, or delivered orally in the form of a pill.
At Northside's Infusion Centers, chemotherapy is dispensed on an outpatient basis by registered nurses who are certified in chemotherapy administration. These nurses also provide ongoing physical assessments.