Chemotherapy for Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Chemotherapy is the use of powerful drugs to kill the cancer cells. It is often used for patients with soft tissue sarcoma; whether or not chemotherapy will be used as part of your treatment depends on the type of soft tissue sarcoma you have.
How will chemotherapy treat my soft tissue sarcoma?
You may receive chemotherapy at different points during your treatment:
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is treatment before surgery, to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove.
- Adjuvant chemotherapy is given after surgery, to destroy remaining cancer cells.
- In cases where the cancer is advanced, chemotherapy may not be able to destroy the cancer, but can offer you relief of some of the symptoms.
- Chemotherapy may also be given in conjunction with radiation therapy.
How is chemotherapy given?
You usually receive chemotherapy in cycles. The medicine is given either orally or through an IV. You have a treatment session for a few days, often as an outpatient, then a rest period for your body to recover from the side effects. The number of treatment sessions you need depends on the type of sarcoma you have and how you respond to the treatment.
Side effects of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a systemic (body-wide) treatment, and can lead to unpleasant side effects, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Higher risk of infection
- Bleeding or bruising
Side effects usually stop once the chemotherapy is over. However, there are long-term side effects of chemotherapy. For example, your fertility may be affected; if you plan to have children, discuss this with your doctor.
Learn more about chemotherapy at Wake Forest.