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Sarcoma

Our physicians are highly-skilled leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases

Sarcomas are malignant tumors in soft tissue and bone that can develop in bones, fat tissue, muscle tissue, nerves, joints, blood vessels and fibrous tissue beneath the skin.

Our physicians are highly-skilled leaders among Indiana institutions in the diagnosis and treatment of sarcomas.

Symptoms

Symptoms of sarcoma vary based on the location of your tumor. Your symptoms may include:

  • A lump growing anywhere on your body (usually painless)
  • Worsening abdominal or back pain
  • Pain in the bone
  • Visible blood in your stool or vomit
  • Black, tarry stools (this may mean you have internal bleeding)

Diagnosis

Your IU Health physician will diagnose bone and soft tissue sarcomas using one or more of the following tools:

• Clinical examination
X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). Takes pictures inside of the body to look for cancer.
• Biopsy

Overview

Symptoms

Symptoms of sarcoma vary based on the location of your tumor. Your symptoms may include:

  • A lump growing anywhere on your body (usually painless)
  • Worsening abdominal or back pain
  • Pain in the bone
  • Visible blood in your stool or vomit
  • Black, tarry stools (this may mean you have internal bleeding)

Diagnosis

Your IU Health physician will diagnose bone and soft tissue sarcomas using one or more of the following tools:

• Clinical examination
X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). Takes pictures inside of the body to look for cancer.
• Biopsy

Your treatment for sarcoma will depend on the stage and location of the cancer. Your physicians will base your treatment options on the most current treatment available and your individual needs. Possible treatments for sarcoma may include:

  • Surgery. Removes the cancer, and sometimes surrounding healthy tissue or lymph nodes, while saving a limb from amputation.
  • ChemotherapyDestroys cancer cells with drugs.
  • Radiation therapy. Uses high energy, penetrating waves or particles to destroy cancer cells or prevent their growth.

Radiation therapy treatments may include:

  • Computed tomography (CT) simulation
  • Four-dimensional CT simulation
  • Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT). Uses radiographic imaging to precisely target tumors and spare healthy tissue in daily radiation treatments.
  • Cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT)
  • Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Advanced technology that delivers radiation to targets located near sensitive tissue. This technique uses a computerized optimization algorithm to help radiation oncologists place the radiation in the correct spot.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Special equipment delivers high-dose radiation to a tumor without harming healthy tissue.

You may undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of the three. Recent developments in treatment include:

  • Isolated limb perfusion. Delivers chemotherapy in a way that can prevent amputation of the limb.
  • Biologic agents. Agents that destroy tumor cells and prevent their growth by attaching to receptors on the outside of tumor cells. These agents do not cause hair loss or other side effects common with traditional chemotherapy.

Treatment

Your treatment for sarcoma will depend on the stage and location of the cancer. Your physicians will base your treatment options on the most current treatment available and your individual needs. Possible treatments for sarcoma may include:

  • Surgery. Removes the cancer, and sometimes surrounding healthy tissue or lymph nodes, while saving a limb from amputation.
  • ChemotherapyDestroys cancer cells with drugs.
  • Radiation therapy. Uses high energy, penetrating waves or particles to destroy cancer cells or prevent their growth.

Radiation therapy treatments may include:

  • Computed tomography (CT) simulation
  • Four-dimensional CT simulation
  • Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT). Uses radiographic imaging to precisely target tumors and spare healthy tissue in daily radiation treatments.
  • Cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT)
  • Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Advanced technology that delivers radiation to targets located near sensitive tissue. This technique uses a computerized optimization algorithm to help radiation oncologists place the radiation in the correct spot.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Special equipment delivers high-dose radiation to a tumor without harming healthy tissue.

You may undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of the three. Recent developments in treatment include:

  • Isolated limb perfusion. Delivers chemotherapy in a way that can prevent amputation of the limb.
  • Biologic agents. Agents that destroy tumor cells and prevent their growth by attaching to receptors on the outside of tumor cells. These agents do not cause hair loss or other side effects common with traditional chemotherapy.

Members of the sarcoma team at IU Health Simon Cancer Center participate in international studies and contribute to national and international research organizations. 

Their research focuses on improving sarcoma care for patients by studying results from previous treatments. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify clinical trials only available through the IU Health Simon Cancer Center. You can find information about cancer research at the Indiana University School of Medicine website.

Research

Members of the sarcoma team at IU Health Simon Cancer Center participate in international studies and contribute to national and international research organizations. 

Their research focuses on improving sarcoma care for patients by studying results from previous treatments. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify clinical trials only available through the IU Health Simon Cancer Center. You can find information about cancer research at the Indiana University School of Medicine website.

Patient Stories for Sarcoma

Medline Plus: Soft Tissue Sarcoma

MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's website for patients and their families and friends produced by the National Library of Medicine. It provides information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues.

Resources

Medline Plus: Soft Tissue Sarcoma

MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's website for patients and their families and friends produced by the National Library of Medicine. It provides information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues.