Our soft tissue sarcoma treatments
If your child receives a soft tissue sarcoma diagnosis, the doctor will talk to you about the best ways to treat it. This depends on several things, including:
- The location and type of sarcoma
- If the cancer has spread
- Your child's age and health
Your child's treatment for soft tissue sarcoma will be customized and carefully planned. It may include one or more of the following.
The main treatment for soft tissue sarcoma is surgery. If the entire tumor can be removed, successful treatment is more likely.
Like all surgeries, sarcoma surgery is most successful when performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular procedure. Children's Cancer Hospital surgeons are some of the most skilled and recognized in the world. They are among the few surgeons in the world who specialize in soft tissue sarcoma treatment, and they use the least-invasive and most advanced techniques.
During the operation, the surgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible, as well as some tissue around it to take out as many cancer cells as possible. Lymph nodes may be removed too.
Your child may receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy before or after the surgery.
Because of a special type of surgery called limb-sparing surgery, which often is followed with radiation therapy, most patients do not have to have arms or legs removed to treat sarcoma.
Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove during surgery. In certain types of soft tissue sarcoma, or if the cancer has spread, chemotherapy may be given after surgery.
Advanced radiation therapy techniques and renowned skill allow Children's Cancer Hospital doctors to target tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least impact on healthy cells.
Although radiation therapy usually is not the main treatment for soft tissue sarcoma, it may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to eliminate remaining cancer cells. It also may be used if the tumor cannot be removed by surgery. Children's Cancer Hospital provides the most advanced radiation treatments, including:
- 3D-conformal radiation therapy: Several radiation beams are given in the exact shape of the tumor
- Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT): Treatment is tailored to the specific shape of the tumor
The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson is one of the largest and most advanced centers in the world. It's the only proton therapy facility in the country located within a comprehensive cancer center. This means that this cutting-edge therapy is backed by all the expertise and compassionate care for which MD Anderson is famous.
Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly to the tumor site, sparing nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. For some patients, this therapy results in better cancer control with less impact on the body.
Sometimes the best approach is to monitor your child closely for a period of time before beginning treatment.
Children's Cancer Hospital is leading into the future of soft tissue sarcoma treatment by developing innovative targeted therapies. These agents are specially designed to treat each cancer's specific genetic/molecular profile to help your body fight the disease.
Many of the doctors at Children's Cancer Hospital are dedicated researchers who have pioneered and actively lead national and international clinical trials with novel targeted agents.
Our treatment approach
At MD Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital, one of the world's foremost team of experts customizes a treatment plan for your child. This multidisciplinary group is among the few in the nation with specialized experience in treating these rare types of cancers.
Children's Cancer Hospital is committed to providing the most advanced treatments for soft tissue sarcoma with the least impact on your child's body, today and in the future.
The team that treats your child for soft tissue sarcoma includes a number of highly trained doctors, including oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists. They are supported by a group of dedicated professionals such as advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, therapists and social workers.
Surgery often is the main treatment for soft tissue sarcoma. Procedures often are delicate and complex. Our surgeons are among the most skilled in the world in surgery for soft tissue sarcoma. They use the latest techniques and technology to give your child the best possible chances for successful treatment.
Children's Cancer Hospital offers a range of clinical trials for soft tissue sarcomas. We are on the forefront of discovering new and better ways to treat soft tissue sarcoma, and this can translate to better chances for successful treatment for your child.
MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering
promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.
Find the latest news and information about childhood soft tissue
sarcoma in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles,
videos, news releases and more.
It all started with just a tiny lump on his wrist.
In the summer of 2014, Kobee Cohen, then 8 years old, noticed a tiny growth on the underside of his right wrist. His grandparents, Hadley and Melinda Cohen, weren’t too concerned.
“What young, active boy doesn’t have a bunch of bumps and bruises?” Hadley recalls.
But they started to get a little nervous in January 2015, when Kobee banged his arm on a basketball goal and the swelling didn’t go down.
The Cohens took their grandson to a bone and joint doctor in Beaumont, Texas. He said the lump should be removed and immediately referred Kobee to MD Anderson.
“Whenever you hear that you have to go get checked out for cancer, it isn’t a good thing,” Hadley says. “But hearing the name MD Anderson was actually a relief because we know that they are the best for cancer care.”
Kobee’s rhabdomyosarcoma diagnosis
Kobee was initially referred to Patrick Lin, M.D. During that initial appointment, Dr. Lin felt the lump on his wrist, asked questions, and ordered an X-ray and an MRI.
A biopsy the following week yielded Kobee’s diagnosis: rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that develops from soft tissues that form muscles.
When Kobee asked how he got cancer, Dr. Lin explained, “Your body is like a bunch of dominoes and one of them just happened to fall over in an unexpected way.”
Perseverance during rhabdomyosarcoma treatment
After the diagnosis, Dr. Lin consulted Winston W. Huh, M.D., at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital.
“We love Dr. Huh,” Hadley says. “He has kids, so he gets it. He really gets down on their level. Plus, he can talk iPads and video games and all the things kids like.”
After injecting Kobee’s tumor with radiated sugar to make sure the rhabdomyosarcoma hadn’t spread, harvesting a lymph node and acquiring a bone marrow sample, his care team came up with his treatment plan.
Kobee started with chemotherapy using vincristine, dactinomycin and cyclophosphamide. After shrinking the tumor, Kobee underwent a seven and a half hour surgery with Dr. Lin and Scott Oates, M.D., to remove the tumor.
After the surgery, Kobee received radiation therapy under the care of Susan McGovern, M.D., Ph.D. He also received more chemotherapy.
While Kobee experienced a couple of scary fevers, his side effects were pretty minor most days -- a little bit of nausea and some soreness and softness in his arm and wrist bones.
An avid foodie, Kobee also was disappointed when Dr. Huh told him that he couldn’t have sushi during treatment.
But Kobee didn’t let his disappointment hold him back. “He wanted to just get this done,” Hadley says. ”He really increased the amount how of fruits and veggies he ate during his treatment. He had two or three helpings of fruit every day -- and bowls and bowls of edamame.”
Support from many sources
Hadley says the outpouring of support that Kobee received from their community, church and classmates made a huge difference. All the boys in Kobee’s class shaved their heads, and the church started a fundraising account to help with the family’s expenses, such as fuel and food.
He believes that one of the things helped Kobee fight cancer was the fact that he cares for three pets: a guinea pig, a bearded dragon and a Labrador puppy.
“Caring for animals puts you in tune with life,” Hadley says. “It also teaches responsibility and gave Kobee something else to focus on besides cancer.”
Kobee has finished his treatment, but still returns every three months for checkups. He’s also excited that he can finally eat sushi again.
“When they told Kobee he could eat sushi again, he pigged out,” Hadley recalls.
As he tells others dealing with cancer, “Cancer is a miserable thing to have go through, but the experience built character and gave Kobee confidence that if he can beat cancer, he can conquer anything in life.”
Encouraged to give back
Kobee is the latest cancer survivor featured in Jason's Deli's Strike Through Cancer campaign, which raises money to support cancer research at MD Anderson. A photo of Kobee with his grandparents appeared on specially marked water bottles from October through December 2015.
“We felt encouraged to participate and share our story,” Hadley says. “Kobee wanted to to let people know that you can get through whatever you face – even if it’s as scary as cancer.”