Radiation Therapy for Sarcoma

Surgery is often the first treatment for sarcoma, but radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also be important roles. If you have sarcoma, you might need radiation or chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. Benefits of radiation or chemotherapy include:

  • Making surgery possible
  • Needing less surgery or making surgery easier 
  • Helping you keep using your arm or leg after surgery
  • Making sure microscopic cancer cells are destroyed

If radiation is part of your treatment plan, your treatment may include one of these radiation types:

Stereotactic radiosurgery usually delivers the whole radiation dose in one session, though it may be repeated if needed. Stereotactic body radiation therapy is a five-course therapy. Your doctor might prescribe many smaller treatments to deliver the same or a slightly higher radiation dose. This is sometimes called fractionated radiosurgery or stereotactic radiotherapy.

Stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiation therapy is not really surgery but a type of radiation treatment that gives a large dose of radiation to a small area in one  session. It is mostly used for brain tumors and other tumors inside the head. First, a head frame is attached to the skull to help aim the radiation beams precisely. Once CT or MRI scans show the tumor’s exact location, a machine sends radiation to the area. The radiation is very precise and nearby tissues are affected as little as possible.

Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) sends shaped energy beams at the cancer from different directions. You will be fitted with a mold or cast that keeps the body part still so radiation can be aimed more accurately. Aiming the radiation precisely could help reduce radiation damage to healthy tissue and fight the cancer more effectively by giving the tumor a higher dose of radiation. 

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a newer method of radiation treatment. As in 3D-CRT, the energy beams match the shape of the tumor. IMRT allows us to change the strength of the beams in some areas to cause less damage to healthy tissue. This provides even more control while getting a higher dose to the tumor. There could be even fewer side effects with IMRT than with 3D-CRT.