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Surgery for soft tissue sarcoma

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Video: Surgical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Surgery for soft tissue sarcoma

The goal of surgery is to locate and completely remove the soft tissue sarcoma tumor. Our pathologists then examine the tumor to determine whether or not additional treatment is necessary, and to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Due to the nature of the disease, it is essential that soft tissue sarcoma surgery is performed by an experienced surgeon who has worked with these types of tumors before. The surgery requires in-depth planning, and a thorough knowledge of anatomy, as the sarcoma must be removed without disrupting the tumor itself. At each of our CTCA hospitals, we have surgical oncology teams who have experience with soft tissue sarcomas.

The main forms of surgery for soft tissue sarcomas are wide local incision, amputation and laparoscopic surgery.

Since soft tissue sarcoma tumors can appear almost anywhere, there are multiple soft tissue sarcoma surgical approaches that might be used as a part of your treatment plan. For tumors located inside the abdomen where laparoscopic surgery isn’t possible, open abdominal surgery (surgery performed through a larger incision) will be performed to remove the tumor. For chest wall sarcomas, such as a chondrosarcoma, your surgical oncology team will remove the tumor with open chest surgery.

In some cases, sarcomas will form inside the chest, near or in the heart, lungs, esophagus or other organs inside the thorax. A thoracic surgeon may be called upon to remove these tumors using either a thoracoscopic or an open approach. Sarcomas of the lung are most often the result of metastasis from another area of the body, as the lungs are the most common location for a sarcoma to spread.

About 2 percent of soft tissue sarcomas spread to the lymph nodes. In these rare cases, a sentinel lymph node biopsy and/or regional lymphadenectomy may be performed to remove the affected lymph nodes. Surgery may also be used to remove metastases if the cancer has spread to the lungs, liver or other organs.

Reconstructive surgery

For some patients, reconstructive surgery may occur during the same procedure as the limb-sparing or amputation surgery. An experienced plastic surgeon will be part of the surgical team to help with the closure of the surgical incision, in addition to any other reconstructive needs that the patient may have. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, the plastic surgeon may take muscle and/or other tissue from another part of the body, and place it into the space left by the removal of the tumor.

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