Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Treatment options for soft tissue sarcomas include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The specific treatment plan for your child will depend on the stage of the cancer, which is based on size and grade of the tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

In some cases, genetic mutations are involved in infant and childhood soft tissue sarcomas. If doctors identify a genetic link, families may be referred to the Medical Genetics and Genomics Clinic for counseling.


Surgery is the most common treatment for soft tissue sarcomas. Your doctor may remove the cancer and a safe margin of healthy tissue around it. Depending on the size and location of the sarcoma, it may be necessary to remove all or part of an arm or leg but amputation is rare. In most cases radiation or chemotherapy is given before surgery to shrink the tumor, or after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is treatment with high-dose X-rays, given before surgery to shrink tumors or after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may have been left behind.


Chemotherapy is treatment with anti-cancer drugs. Chemotherapy may be used to shrink tumors and make the tumor more accessible for removal by surgery or radiation treatment, or sometimes both. Patients with soft tissue sarcomas usually receive chemotherapy intravenously, meaning it's injected into a blood vessel.

If the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, treatment is more difficult. In some situations, intense therapy with drugs, radiation and surgery followed by bone marrow or peripheral stem cell transplant may be used. Some children may be eligible to participate in research projects, or clinical trials, to test new anti-cancer drugs.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Cancer & Blood Disease

Oncology Clinic
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 476-3831
Fax: (415) 502-4372
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Treatment Center
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2584
Fax: (415) 353-2600
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