Orthopedic Surgery

Cancer Center at CHOP

Learn more about innovative treatments for pediatric sarcomas at CHOP.
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Sarcomas

Sarcomas can occur in either soft tissues or bone.

Soft tissue sarcoma

Childhood soft tissue sarcoma is a disease in which cancerous cells begin to grow in the soft tissues of a child's body. These tissues include muscles, tendons (fiber that connects muscles to bones), fibrous (connective) tissues, fat, blood vessels, nerves and synovial tissues (around the joints.) When soft tissue sarcomas occur in children, they are most commonly are found in the trunk, arms and legs.

The child's first symptom may be a solid mass or lump. If we suspect your child has a soft tissue sarcoma, we will look at an X-ray of the area and perhaps remove a tiny amount of tissue and look at it under a microscope (biopsy).

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There are several types of soft tissue sarcoma, depending where the cancer begins.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common form. It begins in muscles around the bone and can be found anywhere in the body.

When soft tissue sarcomas are found, our musculoskeletal tumor team provides the expertise to improve your child's chance of recovery (prognosis). Treatment will depend on factors including the type, location, and stage of the tumor, as well as the age, size, development, and general health of the patient.

Bone sarcoma

Sometimes sarcomas occur in the bone:

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Staging the tumor

When a sarcoma is found, more tests will be done to find out if the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. Called staging, this helps us plan treatment.

Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are usually categorized into the following stages:

How we can help — treatment options

Surgery is the standard treatment for soft tissue sarcoma. Our expert surgeons will remove as much of the cancer as possible, along with some of the normal tissue that borders it.

Another treatment option is radiation therapy. This uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may be given before surgery or after surgery. Radiation may be produced by a machine or by putting materials called radioisotopes through thin plastic tubes into the tumorous area.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the child's bloodstream and travel through the body to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by mouth or put into the body through a needle in a vein or muscle.

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