Treatment for non-rhabdomyosarcomas requires several levels of therapy and is "risk-based," meaning that the treatment is tailored to the level of risk for tumor recurrence or metastasis. There are essentially three types of therapy that can be used individually or in combination: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Surgery: Removes the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue surrounding it. If the tumor is in an arm or leg, it is sometimes necessary to amputate all or part of the limb; however, this is relatively rare. In some cases, especially small and low-grade NRSTS that have not spread, surgery may be the only treatment.
Radiation therapy: Can be given before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells that may have been left at the "margin" of the tumor. Radiation is sometimes used if it is not possible to remove the entire tumor without an amputation. Radiation is usually reserved for higher-grade NRSTS which are more likely to come back following surgical removal.
Chemotherapy: Given to try to shrink the tumor and make it more accessible for surgery or radiation therapy, and also to prevent the tumor from coming back.
Some patients may be eligible for studies of the very newest therapies through clinical trials being conducted at Comer Children's. Parents are closely involved in deciding whether or not to enroll their child in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are only considered by the sarcoma team if they are thought to provide the best chance to cure the non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcoma.