Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your treatment options for soft tissue sarcoma will depend on the size, type and location of your tumor.


Surgery is a common treatment for soft tissue sarcoma. Surgery generally involves removing the cancer and some healthy tissue surrounding it.

When soft tissue sarcoma affects the arms and legs, it may be necessary to amputate the affected arm or leg. Doctors try their best to avoid amputation. One option to achieve this may be using chemotherapy and radiation to shrink the tumor before surgery, which increases the likelihood that an amputation will be unnecessary.

When soft tissue sarcoma spreads to another area of the body, it may be possible to remove the other tumor with surgery, as well.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy involves treating cancer with high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays or protons.

Your doctor may suggest using radiation therapy before surgery to shrink a tumor to make it easier to remove with surgery. Radiation is also used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain.

Chemotherapy and radiation may be combined.


Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be administered by pill, through a vein (intravenously), or both methods may be used.

Some forms of soft tissue sarcoma respond better to chemotherapy than do others. For instance, chemotherapy is often used to treat rhabdomyosarcoma.

Targeted drug treatment

Targeted drugs block specific abnormal signals present in sarcoma cells that allow them to grow.

Targeted drugs used to treat one type of sarcoma called gastrointestinal stromal tumor include:

  • Imatinib (Gleevec)
  • Sunitinib (Sutent)
  • Regorafenib (Stigvara)
  • Pazopanib (Votrient)

Many new targeted drugs are being studied.

July 01, 2015