The term sarcoma describes over fifty different types of cancer, each of which may be treated differently. To ensure you receive the best care, your specialist will arrange for a team of health professionals to plan your treatment based on your preferences and needs. Your specialist will tell you when the team will be discussing your case.
Your team will plan your ongoing care, and should discuss the different treatment options with you including the likely outcomes, possible side effects and the risks and benefits. If appropriate, your team should also discuss the option of fertility preservation. You may be referred to a fertility service to help you evaluate your options.
Let your team know about any complementary therapies you are using or thinking about trying. Some therapies may not be appropriate, depending on your medical treatment.
Treatment for bone sarcoma and soft tissue sarcoma may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a range of combinations.
Surgery is the most common treatment for most types of sarcoma. The type of surgery used will depend on where the cancer is and its size. It is important that this surgery is performed by a surgeon who is very experienced in surgery on sarcoma and performs several of these operations every year.
Reconstructive surgery aims to restore function and appearance to the affected area after surgical removal of bone or tissue. When this involves the limb, the preference is for reconstruction (limb salvage surgery). Reconstruction can involve replacing bone, soft tissue, or function of muscles and nerves.
Limb ablative surgery (amputation)
Occasionally it is not possible to remove all of the cancer without badly affecting the arm or leg. The doctor may advise that the only effective treatment will be to remove the limb.
Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) may be given to you before or after surgery and is most often used for soft tissue sarcomas.
Chemotherapy may be given to you either before surgery to try and shrink the cancer, or after surgery to stop it coming back. It is most often used for bone sarcomas.
Your doctor may also suggest you consider taking part in a clinical trial using newer or experimental therapies.
For more information about treatment and treatment side effects ask your doctor or visit www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/treatment
Your specialist should discuss your needs with you during and after treatment (including physical, psychological, social and information needs) and may refer you to another service or health professional for different aspects of your care.