To confirm a sarcoma diagnosis, you will get a clinical exam from a doctor as well as imaging tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans or positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Then, a biopsy will double-check the imaging results. The process is similar for bone cancers, but we may also use a bone scan.
Sarcomas are cancers that develop in connective tissues, including bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, fibrous tissues, veins, arteries, nerves, skin and fatty tissue.
Each year, about 13,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, and about 3,500 are diagnosed with bone cancer. Together, all types of sarcoma make up just one percent of all new cancer cases.
People with rare cancers like sarcoma have better outcomes if they get care at a center like ours, where experienced doctors treat many people with this disease. At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we offer comprehensive treatment from a team of experts who specialize in soft tissue sarcomas and bone cancers.
In recent years, doctors have gained a better understanding of sarcoma growth patterns, the risks of sarcoma spreading and the most effective treatment options. As a result, survival after sarcoma treatment has improved tremendously.
Fred Hutch: A Leader in Sarcoma Treatment
Fred Hutch has been a leader in sarcoma care for more than 40 years, providing world-class treatment to thousands of people with sarcoma and related conditions. We guide you every step of the way, combining our expertise in soft tissue sarcoma and bone cancer with our commitment to meeting your unique needs.
Sarcoma is a rare cancer that is often hard to diagnose and treat. It’s very important that we confirm your sarcoma and find out your subtype, so we can make sure to choose the right treatment.
Your First Appointment
From the first time you come to see us, your care team will begin getting to know you and your family. What are your questions? What are your concerns?
At your first appointment, your medical oncologist will also explain your disease, including your subtype. They will tell you how it’s treated and which tests you need to help plan your care. Before you leave, your team will make sure you understand the next steps.
Care at Fred Hutch
How does Fred Hutch approach treatment?
The safest, most effective and most widely accepted therapies for cancer are known as the “standard of care.” For many patients, these therapies will be a large part of their treatment. At Fred Hutch, we provide all standard therapies for sarcoma. We know how to choose the right ones for you and how to deliver them to give you the best chance at a full recovery.
Our doctors and researchers are always asking how we can make sarcoma treatments more effective and reduce side effects as much as possible. This is why we do clinical trials (also called clinical studies). Through these studies, we are able to offer you therapies that aren’t offered everywhere. A therapy that is going through trials today may become the new standard of care tomorrow.
Along with treating your cancer, a group of world-class professionals is here to support you. This team includes nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and psychologists. We also include supportive care services for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Treatment Plan and Process
At Fred Hutch, we treat more sarcoma patients every year than any other cancer center in the region.
We think of treatment as a collaborative effort. Treatment looks different for each person, depending on your diagnosis and subtype. Taking a team approach, we talk to each other and you to make treatment decisions. Surgery is the most common treatment for sarcoma, and it may be recommended along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy — or used on its own.
As you go through treatment, your needs may change. Your care team at Fred Hutch is with you each step of the way. For example, we will help you deal with any side effects you may have. We may suggest adding a new therapy that was just approved. Even after your sarcoma treatment is done, we will keep seeing you to protect your health over the long term.
When someone close to you is diagnosed with sarcoma, you might step into the role of caregiver. Being a caregiver can mean many things, from lending a hand with daily living tasks to helping with medical decisions. It can also mean dealing with your own emotions and stress.
At Fred Hutch, caregivers are valuable members of a patient’s care team. We see every day that your presence and your support make a difference. We know that what your friend or family member is going through affects you, too.
Part of our mission is to help you take care of yourself. Caring for yourself is good for your physical, mental and emotional health. It also helps you give your best to your loved one. Our social workers, Spiritual Health team and Patient and Family Resource Center staff are here to help support you.
At Fred Hutch, a team of dedicated people surrounds you and your family to give you the highest level of care and support. You are the most important person on your care team. Our patients are at the center of everything we do.
Fred Hutch is a national leader in cancer research. Our scientists and doctors are working all the time to improve current treatments for CLL and develop new ones so every person with this disease lives a long, healthy life.
There are many resources for learning about your disease, as well as organizations that provide support. Health educators at the Fred Hutch Patient and Family Resource Center have put together a list of trusted sources to help you get started.
At Fred Hutch, we understand that surveillance and supportive care is equally important as cancer treatment for our patients. Our Sarcoma Surveillance Clinic offers monitoring for patients who have completed their sarcoma treatment.