Soft tissue sarcoma

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Treatments for stage 4 soft tissue sarcoma

The following are treatment options for stage 4 soft tissue sarcoma. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and your type of soft tissue sarcoma. They will work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, often along with radiation therapy, is the primary treatment for stage 4 soft tissue sarcoma that can’t be removed with surgery. Chemotherapy is also used to relieve symptoms of advanced soft tissue sarcoma.

The most common chemotherapy drugs used to treat stage 4 or advanced soft tissue sarcoma are:

  • doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
  • ifosfamide (Ifex)
  • gemcitabine (Gemzar)
  • paclitaxel (Taxol)

The most common chemotherapy combinations used to treat stage 4 or advanced soft tissue sarcoma are:

  • doxorubicin and ifosfamide
  • gemcitabine and docetaxel (Taxotere)

In some cases, chemotherapy may be given to shrink a tumour before surgery.

Biological therapy

Biological therapy or targeted therapy may be used to treat advanced soft tissue sarcoma that has already been treated with chemotherapy. The biological therapy used is pazopanib (Votrient).

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy, with or without chemotherapy, can be used to treat stage 4 soft tissue sarcoma that can’t be removed with surgery. Radiation therapy is also used to relieve symptoms of advanced soft tissue sarcoma.

Surgery

Surgery is sometimes offered for a stage 4 soft tissue sarcoma. Most often, surgery is used to control symptoms caused by the primary tumour rather than to treat the cancer itself.

In some cases, it may be possible to remove all of the primary tumour and metastases with surgery, for example, when the cancer has only spread to a lung. However, it may not be possible to remove lung metastases if there are too many of them, they are too big or they are too close to important blood vessels or other structures in the chest.

When all of the primary tumour and metastases can be removed with surgery, radiation therapy may be given along with surgery. It may be given with or without chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy, with or without chemotherapy, may be given before surgery to shrink the tumour so it is easier to remove. It may be given after surgery to destroy any cancer cells left behind and lower the chance that the tumour will come back, or recur.

Clinical trials

You may be asked if you want to join a clinical trial for soft tissue sarcoma. Find out more about clinical trials.

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