How is soft tissue sarcoma treated?
Every patient at Miami Cancer Institute receives a personalized treatment plan put together by our team of medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists and interventional oncologists.
Our philosophy is to find the plan that not only treats the cancer, but also fits you as a patient. Your care team will consider your specific diagnosis and type of tumor, the stage of disease, size and location of tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of your body. We also work closely with physical therapists, nurses, nutritionists and psychosocial experts to ensure we address any potential side effects of treatment.
Surgery is part of our treatment for sarcoma or soft tissue tumors. During surgery, we will remove the tumor and may also remove some surrounding tissue, bone and lymph nodes. The skilled surgical oncologists at Miami Cancer Institute are specially trained in limb-sparing surgery for sarcoma, so patients can maintain use of their arms or legs after the tumor and tissue has been removed.
Our surgical oncologists are also skilled in minimally-invasive surgical treatments for gastrointestinal sarcomas, including laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery.
In some cases, you may require plastic and reconstructive surgery after surgeons remove the tumor. Our surgeons have access to innovative and sophisticated techniques to help minimize the side effects of surgery and recovery.
Radiation is often used alongside surgery to treat sarcoma. If you undergo radiation to treat your sarcoma, Miami Cancer Institute’s radiation oncologists have access to a wide range of radiation technologies, each tailored for the location of the tumor.
Although chemotherapy drugs are used less often in treating sarcoma, your care team may decide to use medicines, such as Adriamycin or Ifosfamide, depending on the type and stage of sarcoma you have.
In recent years, the Miami Cancer Institute has discovered that using radiation or chemotherapy (or sometimes both) prior to surgery may be a more effective treatment for certain sarcomas. This is known as neoadjuvant therapy.
Interventional oncologists use minimally invasive, image-guided techniques to treat your soft tissue sarcoma. These techniques may include:
- Cryoablation (also called cryotherapy or cryosurgery) – A needle is inserted near the tumor, and gas is sent through the needle into the area around the tumor. The gas freezes the tumor and destroys cancer cells.
- Radiofrequency ablation or microwave ablation – This procedure uses imaging technology and needle-like probes to deliver heat directly to the tumor. The probe uses radiofrequency or microwave energy to quickly and effectively destroy the cancer cells.
- Irreversible electroporation (IRE) therapy – This procedure, also called the NanoKnife, uses a CT scan to help doctors place needles near the tumor. Once the doctors place the needles, electricity is sent through the needles to kill the tumor.
- Embolization – A thin tube is used to block the blood flow to a tumor, which causes the tumor to shrink. This procedure is also used during surgery to remove a tumor.
- Radioembolization (Yttrium-90 radioembolization) – During this procedure, interventional oncologists work with radiation oncologists to deliver high doses of radiation directly to tumors. Doctors insert a thin tube through an artery in the groin and guide it to the tumor. Radioactive beads are injected through the tube, or catheter, and into the tumor to cut off blood supply to the tumor. This procedure also helps target the tumor during radiation therapy.
- Chemoembolization – Doctors use a thin tube to inject chemotherapy directly into a tumor and cut off blood supply to the tumor.
Our interventional oncologists use minimally invasive procedures that can help with pain management, including:
- Injecting medication into the area around the spinal cord (epidural injections)
- Injecting pain medication into the abdomen (celiac plexus neurolysis).
- Using nerve blocks to reduce or relieve pain and improve your quality of life.
- Injecting a cement-like mixture or inserting a balloon near the spine (vertebroplasty/kyphoplasty) to help treat compression fractures of the spine, which you may experience during or after treatment.
Depending on the stage and size of your cancer, your care team may also choose to use targeted therapies, such as imatinib (Gleevec) for treating GIST, and olaratumab for treating liposarcoma and leiomyosarcoma. Targeted therapies are tailored for your specific type of tumor.
Miami Cancer Institute oncologists also have access to new immunotherapy treatments for sarcoma, which use medicines that stimulate an immune response to destroy cancer cells.
A multidisciplinary team of cancer experts including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, genetic counselors, medical geneticists, social workers, patient navigators and clinical trials staff meet weekly to discuss select complex cases and determine the best course of care. Stem cell transplantation experts and hematologic oncology experts are also available to discuss complex cases.
Miami Cancer Institute can provide access to clinical trials not widely available elsewhere. Clinical trials find new ways to treat and diagnose cancer and are ongoing. If an appropriate trial is available, we will talk to you about the benefits and risks.
Patient Support Services
Taking care of the whole patient is an important component of providing personalized cancer care. Integrated into the fabric of the Miami Cancer Institute, the Cancer Patient Support Center addresses the psychological, physical, social and spiritual needs of our patients during cancer treatment and beyond.