Are there any good therapies for malignant sarcomas

Soft tissue sarcomas: cancer in the soft tissue of the body

As a rule, a suspected diagnosis can only be made using imaging methods such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) - especially in the case of deeper tumors. A biopsy is then taken from the tumor and examined microscopically. If the suspicion of a sarcoma is confirmed, a spread diagnosis is carried out in order to be able to determine or exclude any metastases (CT lung and abdominal cavity).

Sarcoma centers such as the Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch with highly specialized experts and diagnostic options are available for the most precise examinations. This is the easiest way to clarify what type and how advanced the tumor is.

Therapy from specialists

Since the individual types of sarcoma are very rare diseases, treatments are carried out in specialized centers. Only here do doctors have all the necessary experience with the various types of tumors and their treatment. Oncologists, tumor orthopedists, surgeons, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists and many more work hand in hand in the centers. The procedure and composition of the diagnosis and therapy are individually coordinated for each patient in the sarcoma board. In addition to the type and spread of the sarcoma, the age and condition of the patient are also taken into account. Most of the classic cancer therapy methods are used for soft tissue sarcomas: e.g. surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hyperthermia.

Multimodal therapy: surgery-radiation-drugs

Complete surgery to remove the sarcoma is the most important measure in almost all soft tissue sarcomas. However, since these tumors are very often found on the extremities, i.e. arms and legs, maintaining function is also an important surgical goal. Chemotherapy aims to reduce the risk of metastases and shrink the primary tumor so that healing rates can be improved. Radiation therapy can be performed both before and after soft tissue sarcoma surgery. This treatment significantly reduces the risk of relapse. So-called intraoperative irradiation, the irradiation of the tumor area after its removal, has also proven to be effective in some cases.
The combination of different treatment methods is called multimodal therapy. It usually gives better results, especially with higher-grade cancers.

Chemotherapy before surgery

Even with larger soft tissue sarcomas, the surgeons try to maintain the function of the arm or leg. Before the operation, targeted chemotherapy is used to reduce the size of the tumor. In this way, the surgical procedure can be carried out more gently and an amputation or functional impairment can be prevented.

A successfully applied method is the combination of systemic chemotherapy with regional deep hyperthermia. However, this special treatment is only offered in a few centers, such as the Sarcoma Center Berlin-Brandenburg. In conjunction with local warming, the effect of the medication on the affected part of the body can be increased. This combination enables an improvement in the healing rate of around 10%!

Another successful therapeutic method is isolated hyperthermal limb perfusion (ILP). Here, the affected extremity (arm or leg) is decoupled from the rest of the circulation. When heated, which increases the effectiveness of the medication, chemotherapeutic agents flow through the artificially sealed bloodstream of the diseased arm or leg. After that, the tumor is often killed, so that amputations or a loss of function of the affected extremity can be avoided in around 80% of patients. This elaborate therapy procedure is only available in specialized and qualified centers such as the Sarcoma Center Berlin-Brandenburg.

Studies on new therapies

In addition to the effective procedures, new methods are constantly being tested in order to improve the treatment - with new drugs or another therapy modality. At their own request, suitable patients can participate in these strictly controlled and scientifically monitored clinical studies in our sarcoma center.

Recovering and maintaining operations

The prerequisite for healing is the complete removal of the sarcoma in a healthy person. Even if the operation is carried out as gently as possible, large pieces of tissue often have to be surgically removed along with the sarcoma. In the Sarcoma Center, the various specialist disciplines (e.g. tumor orthopedists, surgical oncologists, plastic surgeons) work to compensate for these losses and restore the function of the affected body part as much as possible. This can be done during the first operation immediately after removal of the tumor or at a later point in time.

Pain management, rehabilitation and aftercare

After completing the actual cancer treatment, follow-up care begins.
If the patient is not pain-free, pain therapy is tailored to the individual. The modern drugs can be dosed very well in a combination and enable cancer patients with advanced disease to live a largely pain-free life.

Rehabilitation helps the patient to find their way back to everyday life and professional life. Through the measures - on an outpatient basis or in a rehab clinic - the cancer-treated patient encounters the possible emotional, physical and social consequences of his illness and learns to solve them or to compensate for them in the new everyday life. Regular medical follow-up helps to identify and treat a recurrence of the cancerous disease in good time and to alleviate possible side effects of the therapy. The frequency and scope of the examinations are individually tailored to the disease and the patient.