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Slide Show - Diagnosing and Treating Soft Tissue Sarcoma

If you have a noticeable and unusual lump that isn't going away, bring this to your doctor's attention right away. The only reliable way to determine whether a tumor is benign or malignant is through a surgical biopsy. During this procedure, a doctor makes an incision or uses a special needle to remove a sample of tumor tissue. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope. If cancer is present, the pathologist can usually determine the type of cancer and its “stage”. Treatment for sarcomas depends on the stage of the cancer. Treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
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*Please note: This slide show is a visual interpretation and does not indicate clinical effectiveness. Please consult your doctor for any medical conditions.
Soft tissue sarcoma usually appears as a painless lump under the skin, often on an arm or a leg, or elsewhere in the body.
If you have a noticeable and unusual lump that isn't going away tell your doctor immediately.
Certain risk factors can increase your chances of soft tissue sarcoma. These include:
  • Genetic disorders;
  • Past radiation therapy;
  • Long periods of swelling of the arms or legs; and
  • Exposure to certain chemicals.

If you suspect you have soft tissue sarcoma, see your doctor right away.

Your doctor may take a tissue sample to test for soft tissue sarcoma. This is called tissue biopsy testing.

This tissue sample will undergo other tests. These tests profile cells, genes, and proteins in suspect tissue.
Tests are used to “stage” or find out the extent of soft tissue sarcoma in the body.
These tests may include:
  • Physical exam;
  • Chest X-rays;
  • Blood tests;
  • Imaging;
  • and others.
If you are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, you will have your health care team working on your behalf. This team may include your cancer doctor and other specialists.
There is no routine way to treat soft tissue sarcoma. Every patient’s sarcoma is different. As such, treatment is tailored to the patient.

Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are treatments that may be used alone or together.

Immunotherapy may be another option.

Surgery may be the only treatment - or part of a multidisciplinary approach - needed for some patients. It may consist of:
  • Local excision;
  • Limb-sparing surgery; or
  • Amputation.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other sources to kill cancer cells.
It may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor. It may also be given after surgery to lower the risk that the tumor will return.
Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancer cells. It can be given before surgery to shrink the tumor.
It can also be given after surgery to lower risk that the tumor will return.

Progress made in soft tissue sarcoma research has led to more diagnosis and treatment options.

Clinical trials are looking at new treatments to improve patient outcomes and survival.