Treatments for Soft Tissue Sarcomas in Children

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Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is home to some of the world's most skilled pediatric oncologists. And while we're known for our science-driven approach to treating conditions like red blood cell disorders, our doctors never forget that your child is a child, and not just a patient.

We specialize in innovative, 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.

Treatment options will vary greatly, depending on your child's situation. Your child's doctor and other members of your care team will discuss the options with you in-depth. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important.

Traditional treatments for soft tissue sarcomas

Treatments for soft tissue sarcomas may involve a combination of therapies including surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. The most common procedures include:

Surgery

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

  • Limb-salvage surgery helps preserve the limb by removing the tumor and wide margins of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
  • Amputation may be necessary if the tumor cannot be removed (for example, if it involves the nerves and blood vessels)

Radiation therapy

Our doctors use precisely targeted and dosed radiation to kill cancer cells left behind after your child's surgery.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a drug 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 do not 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

This is any type of treatment to prevent and treat infections, side effects of treatments, and complications, and to keep your child comfortable during treatment.

What is the recommended long-term care for children treated for soft tissue sarcomas?

Children treated for soft tissue sarcomas 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
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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