Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Radiation Therapy

Depending on the size and location of a tumor, radiation therapy may be considered as an additional treatment before or after surgery.

When used in combination with surgery, radiation therapy may reduce the risk of the sarcoma returning in the same area. Radiation may also be used before surgery to shrink the tumor and increase the space between the tumor and vital structures and organs, helping to improve the surgeon’s ability to remove all of the cancer.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a sophisticated, computer-guided technique that allows for safe delivery of much higher doses of radiation to the tumor than traditional radiation therapy while sparing the normal surrounding tissues. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, IMRT has become the standard radiation approach used to treat soft tissue sarcoma.

For some cases of soft tissue sarcoma, our radiation oncologists can use proton therapy, an advanced form of radiation therapy, to deliver high doses of radiation to tumors that may be resistant to conventional forms while minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissues. Proton therapy directs its cancer-fighting energy to precise locations within the body, allowing our doctors to deliver the necessary dose to the tumor — maximizing the chance of destroying it — while simultaneously lowering the dose to normal tissues and thereby reducing the risk of treatment-related side effects. Currently, this cutting-edge technology is available at only 14 locations in the United States.   

Our doctors also have expertise in sophisticated technical approaches to treatments of sarcomas that have spread to the brain and spine. For example, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is an advanced type of external radiation therapy that delivers extremely precise, very intense doses of radiation to eliminate tumors. Physicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Spine Tumor Center have pioneered the use of stereotactic radiosurgery to eliminate tumors while avoiding injury to the spinal cord.

Our Brain Tumor Center experts also use IMRT and SRS to deliver high radiation doses to precise locations, destroying tumors while avoiding damage to normal brain tissue.