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Sarcoma care

Expert diagnosis and treatment for tumors of the soft tissue

Allina Health provides comprehensive, expert care in the detection and treatment of sarcoma (tumors of the soft tissue). Your health care team will include experienced and compassionate providers who will work closely with you through every step of your cancer care. 

Sarcomas are rare cancers that form in the bones and soft tissues of the body. There are two main groups of sarcomas: soft tissue sarcoma and sarcoma of the bone (osteosarcoma and others). Bone sarcomas can form in bone, cartilage or bone marrow. Soft tissue sarcomas occur in tissue that connects, supports or surrounds other body parts, including blood vessels, fat, fibrous tissue, lymphatics, muscles, nerves, tendons and tissues in and around joints. There are more than 70 specific types of sarcoma, each related to the type of tissue in which it forms. Sarcomas are most commonly found in the arms, legs, chest and abdomen.  

Each year, about 15,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with some form of sarcoma: about 12,000 with soft tissue sarcoma and about 3,000 with bone sarcoma (osteosarcoma). 

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Sarcoma care at Allina Health

At Allina Health, we believe in a whole person approach to your sarcoma care, considering your overall wellbeing, which includes your body, mind, and soul.  

The Allina Health Cancer Institute provides team-based, multidisciplinary care. This means you will have a team of cancer care specialists that includes surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and nurses. These experts work together seamlessly, sharing their expertise, continuously improving the care they provide and ensuring that you are receiving treatment that is individualized to your specific needs. 

Additionally, your team will include a dedicated nurse navigator who will help coordinate your care. Your navigator will be a valuable point of contact from diagnosis, through treatment and into recovery. 

We also want you to be actively involved in your care. One way you can do that is through the Allina Health account, an online tool that lets you track your appointments, review your test results and more. 

Diagnosis of sarcoma

The only way to diagnose sarcoma is with a biopsy (removing a small amount of tissue to examine under a microscope). Imaging tests may be used before, during or after a biopsy to determine the location and extent of the tumor. 

Your health care team will choose one of the following types of biopsies depending on where the tumor is located. 

  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA): A very thin needle (thinner than those used to draw blood) is placed into the tumor and a sample of cells is removed. CT (computed tomography) scans or ultrasound may be used to help guide the needle. The sample is sent to the lab to be looked at under a microscope.  

  • Core needle biopsy: A long, hollow needle (slightly larger than the one used in an FNA biopsy) is used to remove samples of tissue. (This is the most common method used to diagnose sarcomas.) 

  • Incisional biopsy: An incision (cut) is made in the skin and only a small part of the tumor is removed. 

  • Excisional biopsy: An incision (cut) is made in the skin and the entire tumor is removed surgically. 

Your doctor also may order imaging tests, such as: 

Sarcoma treatment options

Sarcomas may be treated with a combination of therapies, including surgerychemotherapy or radiation therapy. The type of treatment you receive will depend on several factors, including: 

  • the location and type of sarcoma 

  • if the cancer has spread 

  • your general health and ability to tolerate the recommended treatments. 

Together, you and your health care team will create an individualized plan based on your health, your cancer stage, and your needs.  

Related links

Source: Allina Health Cancer Institute
Reviewed by: Natasha Rueth, MD

First published: 6/3/2019
Last reviewed: 11/10/2021

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