To achieve the best outcome possible, treatment for soft tissue sarcoma requires interdisciplinary care tailored to the individual patient and tumor. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's team of experts in soft tissue sarcoma has extensive experience treating these tumors.
Refinements in surgical techniques, many of which were developed here, soft tissue reconstruction, and radiation therapy have improved our ability to preserve limb and organ function for patients with soft tissue sarcoma.
Team Approach to Care
The Soft Tissue Sarcoma Disease Management Team includes specialists in epidemiology, surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology, nursing, pathology, biostatistics, immunology, and psychiatry. The team sees more than 700 new patients with soft tissue sarcoma for consultation or treatment each year.
The team meets weekly to discuss the multidisciplinary management of all Memorial Sloan-Kettering sarcoma patients, to review all proposed clinical trials, and to identify additional expertise that may be needed.
Focus on the Patient
We believe that treating the whole person, not just the disease, is the best approach for patients and family members. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, we offer a broad range of emotional support programs designed to help patients and family members cope with the range of issues related to life during and after cancer treatment.
For patients with a diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma, of which there are more than 50 separate subtypes, it is important to be treated at a center that has experience with all forms of this rare disease. The members of the Soft Tissue Sarcoma Disease Management Team are leaders in providing state-of-the-art diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation to patients, having treated more than 8,000 soft tissue sarcoma patients since 1982. In addition, Memorial Sloan-Kettering has the largest dedicated single-institution database for tracking soft tissue sarcoma patients. One important advantage of this database is that it enhances the ability of our experts to predict treatment outcome, helping to minimize the risk that a patient will undergo excessive surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
Molecular & Genetic Diagnosis
Visit PubMed for our journal articles
The key to any successful treatment is correct diagnosis. Our researchers have pioneered the molecular and genetic diagnosis of many sarcoma subtypes and are leading the search for genetic markers that may help determine the aggressiveness of particular tumor types and their potential response to treatment. Our diagnostic team changes the diagnosis for up to 15 percent of soft tissue sarcoma tumor biopsy samples submitted to Memorial Sloan-Kettering for second review from other hospitals.
Genetic and cytogenetic analysis, techniques that have been developed in part at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, has improved tumor classification for soft tissue sarcomas, allowing us to place tumors into one of two main groups. The first group includes sarcomas with simple genetic changes such as mutation or translocation, and the second includes sarcomas with highly complex genetic alterations. Identifying the specific type of genetic alteration helps doctors to select the most effective therapy. Our investigators are currently leading the Sarcoma Genome Project, a collaborative effort to molecularly characterize the different types of soft tissue sarcomas using state-of-the-art technologies in cancer genomics with the goal of improving the prediction of sarcoma prognosis and of developing specific therapies targeted to each sarcoma type.
Our Surgical Expertise
Not long ago, amputation of an arm or leg was the standard treatment for soft tissue sarcoma arising in the limbs. Today, treatment approaches pioneered at Memorial Sloan-Kettering feature more conservative operations, combined with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, which offer patients a high rate of tumor control without amputation. Each year, our surgical team operates on approximately 600 patients with soft tissue sarcoma.
Pinpoint Accuracy in Radiation Therapy
Memorial Sloan-Kettering has been a leader in developing the use of brachytherapy — a type of radiation therapy in which radioactive material is placed directly into or near a tumor — for soft tissue sarcomas. Today, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is the standard of care at Memorial Sloan-Kettering for soft tissue sarcoma patients who require radiation therapy. IMRT offers a greater degree of precision than traditional radiotherapy techniques, using sophisticated computer software to plan the safe delivery of higher doses of radiation to the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissues — with improved tumor control results. An added benefit of IMRT is its enhanced distribution of the radiation dose throughout a large treatment target, which is often required for soft tissue sarcomas.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering is at the forefront of new treatments for soft tissue sarcoma and offers a large number of clinical trials related to such tumors. Increasingly, delivery of chemotherapeutic agents is given orally as opposed to intravenously, into the patient's bloodstream.
Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering are continuing to study improved methods of sarcoma therapy. In the laboratory, our physicians and researchers are investigating new types of adjuvant (additional) treatments. Many other novel therapies and approaches are being performed by Memorial Sloan-Kettering physicians in efforts to increase the rate of cure for sarcoma patients. For example, Memorial Sloan-Kettering investigators have developed new chemotherapy drugs designed to target the tumor cell cycle process. These drugs are now being tested in clinical trials.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering researchers have developed a statistical tool, or nomogram, to help doctors more accurately predict treatment outcomes on an individual basis. The nomogram allows doctors and patients to design better treatment plans and ensures that those sarcoma survivors who are at greatest risk of recurrence and metastases can be more aggressively treated, while those at low risk can avoid unnecessary treatment.
Our Nursing Staff
At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, our dedicated nurses have extraordinary knowledge, experience, and expertise in the care of patients with soft tissue sarcoma.
In the outpatient, or ambulatory, setting, each nurse works in collaboration with a single physician, providing patients and their families with a consistent source of information, education, and support. Ambulatory nurses also “triage” all symptom- and treatment-related telephone calls, providing the patient with expert symptom management, as well as access to intra-departmental referrals (e.g. social work, nutrition, and integrative medicine). The ambulatory care team also includes research nurses, who educate, assess, and support patients who participate in clinical trials.
If a patient is admitted into the hospital to stay overnight, he or she is cared for in an inpatient setting, in which nursing care is provided by the following team of professionals:
- Nurse Practitioners, who work with the patient's physician and the rest of the treatment team to develop and implement a treatment plan that will meet the needs of each individual patient and his or her family
- Clinical Nurses, who provide bedside care, on-going assessment of each patient, and communication of critical information to the rest of the treatment team, as well as providing information and support to patients and families
- Nursing Assistants, who provide basic bedside care and support
- Nurse Case Managers, who assist with preparing the patient for discharge from the hospital and provide access to services within the patient's community
In all areas, nurses use their knowledge and skills to help patients and families navigate the complexities of sarcoma treatment. They are a source of information, reassurance, and understanding, and are an integral part of the team approach to care at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.