Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Surgery

Surgery is the primary form of treatment for soft tissue sarcoma that has not spread. It is important that the surgeon remove the entire tumor and any surrounding organs or tissues that have been affected in order to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Treatment approaches pioneered at Memorial Sloan Kettering emphasize controlling the tumor without the need to remove (amputate) limbs whenever possible. In addition, new reconstructive techniques that permit the repair of nerves and blood vessels and the transfer of muscle and soft tissue have enabled our surgeons to perform extensive operations while preserving the function of these parts of the body. For more than 90 percent of patients, our surgeons can remove tumors without amputation of a limb.

As we research and understand more about soft tissue sarcomas, doctors have learned that sarcoma subtypes have varying growth patterns, as well as differing risks for spread. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, our experts have developed a surgical database that helps to predict a patient’s risk of recurrence or metastatic disease. This guides our team in choosing the most effective treatment plan.

Surgery for Recurrent or Metastatic Sarcoma

People who have tumors that recur in a part of the body where surgery was already performed may be cured with a second surgery, possibly followed by chemotherapy and radiation. These treatment decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. For some people with metastatic disease (cancer that has spread), we may recommend surgery.

In patients whose sarcoma returns or spreads who are unable to have surgery for various reasons, our doctors may recommend chemotherapy or enrollment in a clinical trial testing investigative treatments, such as vaccines and novel immunotherapeutic approaches.