Treatment types | Sarcoma UK
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Treatment types

The type of treatment you receive will depend on the stage and grade of your cancer and the type of sarcoma you have.

Your multidisciplinary team (MDT) will discuss your case and your doctor or nurse will talk you through your options so you are included in deciding what treatment is best for you.

In some cases, your healthcare professional might recommend genomic testing. These tests can help doctors to learn more about your tumour and identify the most appropriate treatments for you.


In a lot of cases, surgery is the first treatment method used for sarcoma – sometimes with additional radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The surgeon will remove the tumour and will aim to take out an area of normal tissue around it too; this is known as taking a margin. It allows any cancer cells that are not visible to the naked eye to be removed along with the tumour which can reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.

Our Rehabilitation Hub has lots of information about how to prepare for surgery, the different types of surgery you may have, and advice how to achieve the best possible function after your surgery.



This treatment uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells.

It can be offered either before or after surgery to reduce the risk of your cancer recurring.

When used before surgery it aims to reduce the size of the tumour so it can be operated on and removed. Radiotherapy is also very effective when given after surgery. This is particularly so for intermediate and high grade tumours and when the margins are quite close. In this case, the aim is to kill off any local cancer cells which remain in the area of the tumour. Your doctor will advise which is best for you.

Radiotherapy can also be offered if surgery is not possible or if the tumour cannot be completely removed.

Some types of sarcoma can be treated using Proton Beam Therapy, which is a type of radiotherapy that uses high-energy proton beams rather than high-energy radiation beams to deliver a dose of radiotherapy. For most patients there is no strong evidence that PBT is better than x-ray radiotherapy in treating sarcoma. For a lot of sarcoma patients x-ray radiotherapy may be just as or more effective to treat their type of cancer. You can read more about Proton Beam Therapy here.

Some treatments for sarcoma, such as radiotherapy and surgery, can damage the lymphatic system and cause lymphoedema. You can read more about lymphoedema here.



This treatment uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. Its main use is in treating bone sarcomas, usually before or after surgery, or if surgery is not possible / the tumour cannot be completely removed. Not all soft tissue sarcomas respond well to this type of treatment; however, it is used on the subtypes that do respond to chemotherapy.


Clinical trials

You may be offered an opportunity to take part in a study to investigate new diagnosis methods, drugs or treatments. Some studies also look at the care and well-being of patients. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information on opportunities for you to take part in a clinical trial.

Our Clinical Trials Hub lists all of the sarcoma clinical trials that are currently open to recruitment in the UK.


Palliative care

Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of anyone facing problems associated with advanced, progressive or life-limiting illnesses.


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