Few things in life are quite as unsettling as a cancer diagnosis – but thankfully, there’s always hope. At Orange County CyberKnife, we’re proud to provide state-of-the-art radiation therapy and cancer treatment services to patients throughout Orange County, and our cancer-fighting experts work to tailor treatment closely to each individual cancer case. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with sarcoma, we’ll work with you to properly determine the type of sarcoma you’re fighting and create a comprehensive treatment plan.
As with all forms of cancer, the best way to effectively fight sarcoma is through early detection and treatment. For this reason, if you have a family history of sarcoma or other cancers that occur early in life, you may want to talk with your doctor about genetic testing. Genetic testing, when interpreted by a genetic counselor or highly trained doctor who can properly interpret results, may help high-risk patients understand their likelihood of developing sarcoma and create an effective plan for early detection.
Genetic tests or other screenings generally aren’t recommended for anyone who doesn’t have this strong family history or other sarcoma risk factors. Instead, these normal-risk patients should simply self examine and notify their doctor of any unexplained lumps, growths, or other symptoms that may denote a soft tissue sarcoma.
The only way to cure soft tissue sarcoma is surgical removal, so surgery almost always makes up some component of the treatment plan for virtually any type or stage of sarcoma. That said, every patient is different, and your eligibility for surgery depends on a number of factors. The most important thing is to seek treatment at a specialized cancer treatment with expertise in sarcoma treatment.
Desmoid tumors are a fairly unusual type of soft tissue sarcoma, as they generally don’t spread to distant sites. They often grow into nearby tissues and structures and may recur after surgical removal, but they rarely metastasize.
Because of this, some patients may not actually need treatment – in some cases, your doctor may watch your tumor for the rest of your life without ever intervening. Treatment usually only becomes necessary if the tumor causes pain or other symptoms.
If treatment is required, surgery is usually the preferred method. If all cancerous tissue can be removed with surgery, you may not need any follow up treatment. Radiation therapy may also be an option depending on the specifics of your case.
For larger or recurrent tumors, your doctor may also opt to use drug therapy. Some drugs can prevent the tumor from growing or even cause it to shrink, effectively mitigating the risk of the tumor. Your doctor will talk with you to help you understand your case and the different options available to you for treatment.
Stage I soft tissue sarcoma refers to any lowgrade tumor, which means a tumor that isn’t as aggressive and will not grow or spread as rapidly as other cases. Tumors less than 2 inches across can often be completely excised with surgery and don’t require any further treatment. However, if cancer cells are found at the edges of the removed tissue, more surgery or other treatment may be needed. Radiation therapy may also be an option for post-surgical treatment.
Tumors that develop in the head, neck, or abdomen are generally more difficult to remove through surgery, as it’s impossible to remove sufficient tissue without damaging important structures. In these cases, your doctor may opt for radiation therapy or chemotherapy to attempt to shrink the tumor to the point that it can be removed through surgery. Radiation therapy may also be used after surgery to minimize the risk of recurrence.
Most stage II and III sarcomas are highgrade tumors, which means they will grow and spread aggressively, and they may have already spread to lymph nodes. Stage II and III sarcomas are also more prone to recurrence after surgery.
Regardless, surgical removal is still the preferred treatment for these tumors. Any lymph nodes affected by cancer will also be removed. If surgery is difficult because of the tumor’s size or location, your doctor may use chemotherapy or radiation to shrink the tumor. In rare cases, the best option may be amputation to remove the entire tumor if the cancer presents a very serious threat to your life. Radiation therapy or chemo may be used alone in cases where surgery is impossible due to the size or location of the tumor or the patient’s health.
Stage IV refers to sarcomas that have metastasized to distant sites. Unfortunately, these cases are rarely curable, but they may still be curable if the the primary tumor and all metastatic tumors can be removed via surgery. This is most common when the cancer has spread only to the lungs. Treatment for Stage IV sarcoma is determined very much on an individual basis – you and your doctor will work together to create a plan that best serves your needs.
Even if surgery can’t remove all tumors, we can use radiation therapy and chemotherapy to relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the cancer. Your cancer doctor will explain all treatment options to you in detail and talk with you to help you choose the best plan for going forward.
Recurrent sarcoma refers to any cancer that returns after treatment. Recurrence may be local, which means the cancer returns at or near the site of the original tumor, or distant, which means cancer appears in a new location like the lungs or the brain. Local recurrence can often be treated with surgery or radiation therapy, but chemotherapy is more common for recurrence at a distant site. Surgery may be possible if the sarcoma has only spread to the lungs, and radiation therapy may be an option for sarcomas that spread to the brain.
Sarcoma is one of the most difficult forms of cancer to treat – so if you or a loved one are battling sarcoma, you deserve the absolute best cancer care available to you. At OC CyberKnife, that’s exactly what we aim to provide. Call us today at 714.962.7100 to learn more about our state-of-the-art cancer treatments or to schedule a consultation or second opinion. We’ll work with you to create a treatment plan that fits into your lifestyle – no matter what type or stage of sarcoma you’re facing.