Chemotherapy is one of the longest used and most common treatments for cancer. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow and reproduce. A combination of chemotherapy medicines is typically used to fight a sarcoma.
While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating sarcomas, the medicines reach all parts of the body, not just the cancer cells. There can be many side effects during treatment and being prepared for these side effects can help you and your caregivers manage them effectively.
Chemotherapy can be given in various ways, such as:
- An injection into the muscle or fat tissue
- A pill to swallow
- Directly into a body cavity
- Directly into the bloodstream, or intravenously, also called IV
- Topically, directly applied to the skin
Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles to allow healthy cells the time to recover. Treatment may be given daily, weekly, every few weeks or monthly, depending on your situation. Also, this treatment typically given in an outpatient setting. This includes a hospital, clinic or health care provider’s office.
Patients are encouraged to take along something that is comforting to occupy their time during treatment. Since it is hard to predict how a patient will feel after treatment, it is important that the patient has arrangements to have someone drive them to and from their appointment.
The main goal of this procedure is to completely remove the tumor, as even a few cancer cells left behind can grow and multiply to create a new tumor. To be sure that all cancer cells are gone, surgeons typically perform a wide excision, a procedure to remove the tumor plus some healthy surrounding tissue. A wide excision with no cancer detected on the remaining edges of tissues, also known as a clean margin, minimizes the risk that the cancer will return.
Some sarcomas are best treated by removing the limb (amputation), but that is rarely the case. Most sarcomas can be treated without amputation, followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
A one-time administration of chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity, this treatment is most often combined with cytoreductive surgery. This specialized cutting-edge procedure allows your team to deliver a higher dose of chemotherapy directly onto the tissue and directly target microscopic cancer cells, which are not visible on scans or to the human eye. Markey Cancer Center is a high-volume center for hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) and has several experienced, surgical oncologists trained in the procedure.