Treatments

Proton Therapy for Sarcoma

Proton therapy is an advanced treatment option that precisely delivers radiation to the size, shape and depth of your tumor. This approach allows your doctor to radiate the cancer while limiting damage to the surrounding tissue. For this reason, proton therapy is particularly good for treating tumors near healthy organs, including sarcomas.

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Jim, Sarcoma Survivor
“My biggest fear when it came to choosing a treatment plan was either that it wouldn’t work or that it might do damage elsewhere. I am a scientist, I did my research and I decided on Proton Therapy.”
— Jim, Sarcoma Survivor

Read Jim's story

When is Proton Therapy Appropriate for Treatment of Sarcoma?

Sarcomas are cancers that develop in the body’s connective tissues such as bones, muscles, fat, nerves and cartilage. Sarcomas are extremely rare, making up only 1% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States. Sarcomas are usually divided into bone cancers and soft tissue cancers.

Depending on type, location and stage of the cancer, sarcomas can be treated in a variety of ways. Typical treatment options include proton therapy, standard radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, cryotherapy and RF ablation. Proton therapy is an especially important treatment option if: 

  • the tumor is located in the abdomen or close to critical organs 
  • the patient is trying to preserve particular functions, such as fertility
  • a patient has had prior radiation
  • the disease is recurrent  

Recurring sarcomas may appear in different locations around the body. Protons can spare healthy tissue surrounding the tumor and minimize the area exposed to radiation. This is especially important if treatment is required several times over a life expectancy of many years.

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Radiation therapy The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Stage The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes contain cancer and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. Ablation Treatment to remove or destroy all or part of a cancer; also used to remove or stop organ function. Besides surgery and drugs, other types of ablation include extreme heat, freezing and chemicals.

Treatment that removes or destroys all or part of a cancer; can also be used to remove or stop the function of an organ. For example, removing the ovaries or testicles or taking medicines that cause them to stop making their hormones would be called ablation. Besides surgery and drug treatment, other ways of ablating body tissues and tumors include extreme heat, freezing and chemicals.

Image of standard radiation vs proton therapy.
The image above shows a comparison plan between standard radiation (right) and proton therapy (left) for fibrosarcoma of the right gluteal muscle. In this scenario, the reproductive organs are spared from harmful radiation.

Sarcomas That May Be Appropriate for Proton Therapy:

  • Chordoma
  • Leiomyosarcoma 
  • Liposarcoma 
  • Myxoid liposarcoma
  • Well differentiated liposarcoma
  • Dedifferentiated liposarcoma
  • Pleomorphic liposarcoma
  • Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma
  • Myxofibrosarcoma 
  • Fibrosarcoma 
  • Clear cell sarcoma
  • Angiosarcoma 
  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Spine Sarcoma
  • Ewing’s sarcoma 
  • Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor 
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma 
  • Synovial sarcoma 
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
  • Many Childhood Sarcomas
     
Gastrointestinal Refers to the stomach and intestines. Also called GI.