Treatments for Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma in Children

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We know how stressful a diagnosis of alveolar soft part sarcoma can be, both for your child and for your whole family. That's why our physicians are focused on family-centered care: From your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting all of your family's physical and psychosocial needs. We'll work with you to create a care plan that's best for your child.  

Your child's physician will determine a specific course of treatment based on several factors, including: 

  • your child's age, overall health and medical history
  • the location and size of the tumor
  • whether the disease has recurred 

Treatment for alveolar soft part sarcoma can vary greatly, depending on your child's unique situation. Your child's doctor and other members of your care team will discuss the options with you in-depth. 

Traditional treatments for alveolar soft part sarcoma
Surgery is the most common and effective treatment for most soft tissue sarcomas, particularly for alveolar soft part sarcoma that has not spread. These tumors tend to be unresponsive to chemotherapy.

 Depending on the size and location of the tumor, your child may either need: 

  • limb-salvage surgery to help preserve the limb by removing the tumor and some healthy tissue around the tumor, or
  • amputation, which may be necessary if the tumor cannot be removed (for example, if it involves the nerves and blood vessels). 

In addition to surgery, your child may need other types of treatment, including:

Radiation therapy
Our doctors use precisely targeted and dosed radiation to kill cancer cells left behind after your child's surgery. Radiation can also be given before surgery in order to shrink the tumor or in place of surgery to try to control tumor growth if surgery is not possible. 

Arterial embolization
There is potential for blood loss during an operation to remove an alveolar soft part sarcoma because of the abnormal blood vessels that may be involved. As a result, surgery involves very careful planning. 

  • In some cases, before you and your child's treatment team decide on surgery, a radiologist may perform a procedure called arterial embolization. This blocks the blood flow in the abnormal vessels that are involved with the tumor. This reduces the risk of bleeding during surgery.
  • To determine whether your child can undergo arterial embolization without complications, your doctor may use an angiogram, a special x-ray that helps doctors to visualize the involved blood vessels.

Chemotherapy
In some cases, chemotherapy may be used to treat an alveolar soft part sarcoma. Chemotherapy is class of drugs that interferes with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. 

  • Different groups of chemotherapy drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells and shrink tumors.
  • Often, a combination of chemotherapy drugs is used.
  • Certain chemotherapy drugs may be given in a specific order depending on the type of cancer it is being used to treat. 

While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the agents don't differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells. Because of this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help the care team, parents, and child prepare, and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms from occurring, if possible. 

Chemotherapy is systemic treatment, meaning it is introduced to the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given: 

  • as a pill to swallow
  • as an injection into the muscle or fat tissue
  • intravenously (IV), directly to the bloodstream
  • intrathecally, directly into the spinal column with a needle

Supportive care

The term “supportive care” refers to any type of treatment to prevent and treat infections, side effects of treatments and complications, and to keep your child comfortable during treatment. It is an important part of our care for all children receiving cancer treatment. 

What is the recommended long-term care regimen for a child treated for alveolar soft part sarcoma?

Children treated for alveolar soft part sarcoma should visit a survivorship clinic every year to: 

  • manage disease complications
  • screen for early recurrence of cancer
  • manage late effects of treatment

A typical follow-up visit may include some or all of the following: 

  • a physical exam
  • laboratory testing
  • imaging scans 

Through the David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, childhood cancer survivors receive a comprehensive follow-up evaluation from their cancer care team. 

  • Our childhood cancer survivorship clinic is held weekly.
  • In addition to meeting with your pediatric oncologists, your child may see one of our endocrinologists, cardiologists, neurologists, neuro-psychologists or alternative/complementary therapy specialists.
  • We also offer the following services:
    • patient and family education
    • psychosocial assessment
    • genetic counseling
    • reproductive and fertility evaluation and counseling
    • opportunities to speak with other childhood cancer survivors


Coping and support

In addition to providing medical care, the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center strives to also meet all of your family's emotional and quality-of-life needs.

We know that unfamiliar places, especially hospitals, often create anxiety and fear for a child. We also know this isn't an easy time or task for parents, who have their own fears and concerns about the situation. Our family support services will help address many of your needs and concerns.

Read more about our resources and support services. 


We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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