Treating Soft Tissue Sarcomas

The main types of treatment for soft tissue sarcoma are:

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs.

Which doctors treat soft tissue sarcomas?

Experts recommend that patients with sarcoma have a health care team made up of doctors from different specialties, such as:

  • An orthopedic surgeon: specializes in diseases of the bones, muscles, and joints (for sarcomas in the arms and legs)
  • A surgical oncologist: treats cancer with surgery (for sarcomas in the abdomen [belly] and retroperitoneum [the back of the abdomen])
  • A thoracic surgeon: treats diseases of the lungs and chest with surgery (for sarcomas in the chest)
  • A medical oncologist: treats cancer with medicines like chemotherapy
  • A radiation oncologist: treats cancer with radiation therapy
  • A physiatrist (or rehabilitation doctor): treats injuries or illnesses that affect how you move

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, physical therapists, and other health professionals.

After a sarcoma is found and staged, your team will recommend one or several treatment options. This decision is important, so take time and think about all of the choices. In choosing a treatment plan, factors to consider include the type, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as your overall physical health.

Making treatment decisions

It' is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your treatment teamdoctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. Some important things to consider include:

  • Your age and expected life span
  • Any other serious health conditions you have
  • The location and stage of your soft tissue sarcoma
  • The likelihood that treatment will help you live longer, relieve symptoms, or help in some other way
  • Your feelings about the possible side effects from treatment

You might feel that you need to decide quickly, but it’s important to give yourself time to absorb the information you’ve learned. It’s also very important to ask questions if there is anything you’re not sure about. See Questions to Ask About Soft Tissue Sarcomas for ideas.

Getting a second opinion

If you have time allows, it' is often a good idea to get a second opinion. ThisA second opinion can give you provide more information and help you feel more confident about the treatment plan you choose. If you aren’t sure where to go for a second opinion, ask your doctor for help.

Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial

Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases, they may be the only way to get newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.

If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. See Clinical Trials to learn more.

Considering complementary and alternative methods

You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.

Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.

Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you find out what's known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See the Complementary and Alternative Medicine section of our website to learn more.

Help getting through cancer treatment

Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.

The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists.

Choosing to stop treatment or choosing no treatment at all

For some people, when treatments have been tried and are no longer controlling the cancer, it could be time to weigh the benefits and risks of continuing to try new treatments. Whether or not you continue treatment, there are still things you can do to help maintain or improve your quality of life. Learn more in If Cancer Treatments Stop Working.

Some people, especially if the cancer is advanced, might not want to be treated at all. There are many reasons you might decide not to get cancer treatment, but it’s important to talk to your doctors and you make that decision. Remember that even if you choose not to treat the cancer, you can still get supportive care. to help with pain or other symptoms?

The treatment information given here is not official policy of the American Cancer Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor. Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.