Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment Program
Mass General Cancer Center
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114
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Explore the Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment Program
Our multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists provides comprehensive, individually tailored treatment for children and adults with soft tissue sarcoma – cancers arising in tissue such as muscle, tendon, cartilage, fat, blood vessels, and nerves. Because sarcoma is so rare, it is important to seek treatment from experts with extensive experience in diagnosing and managing these rare cancers. Our program is one of the oldest, largest, and most experienced sarcoma treatment programs in the world.
Among the types of soft tissue sarcomas treated here are:
- Alveolar Soft Parts Sarcoma
- Clear Cell Sarcoma
- Desmoid tumor (Fibromatosis)
- Dermatofibrosarcoma Protruberans (DFSP)
- Epithelioid Sarcoma
- Extraskeletal Myxoid Chondrosarcoma
- Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST)
- Malignant Hemangiopericytoma
- Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor (MPNST)
- Pleomorphic Spindle Cell Sarcoma, including Fibroblastic and/or Myofibroblastic
- Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET)
- Soft Tissue Osteosarcoma
- Synovial Sarcoma
At the Center for Sarcoma and Connective Tissue Oncology, we offer cutting edge care and innovative surgical, medical oncology, and radiation oncology treatments designed to eradicate the tumor, prevent local recurrence, improve survival and optimize limb function.
Our surgeons are experienced in resecting tumors and reconstructing defects. We are active participants in a national clinical trials network that allows us to bring new treatments to our patients as quickly as possible. We are one of only a few centers in the Unites States that include proton beam therapy among our therapeutic offerings in addition to state-of-the-art surgery and targeted chemotherapy.
Multidisciplinary Patient Care
Our team approach ensures that every patient benefits from an individualized, coordinated and compassionate treatment plan, with care provided by leading experts from many specialties. We consider patients and their family and friends involved in their care to be part of this team. Your care team may include:
- Pathologists evaluate all tumor samples to provide precise diagnostic information, including any biomarkers that can help your team design the best treatment plan for you
- Musculoskeletal radiologists offer advanced imaging to evaluate tumors, assist in surgical planning, and monitor the results of treatment
- Orthopaedic oncology surgeons and surgical oncologists provide the most advanced surgical techniques to maximize tumor removal and maintain extremity function
- Spine surgeons assist in spinal reconstruction procedures
- Microvascular surgeons aid in reconstruction procedures to enhance limb function
- Medical and/or pediatric oncologists design the most appropriate combination of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or targeted therapy for your particular cancer
- Radiation oncologists offer innovative radiation therapy techniques customized to your individual needs and designed to deliver the most therapeutic radiation to the cancer while preserving adjacent normal tissue
- Oncology nurses and nurse practitioners bring special expertise in cancer care
- Oncology psychiatrists, social workers, and chaplains provide family, spiritual, and emotional, and mental health support
- Oncology nutritionists help with dietary issues to enhance your health and well-being during treatment
- Palliative care providers work with your team to address pain and quality-of-life concerns
Your team will develop and implement an integrated personalized care plan for you. Depending on the stage and other characteristics of your cancer, the treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these therapies. The team meets weekly in Sarcoma Conference to monitor treatment and ensure seamless communication and coordination of care.
Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Cancer
Our musculoskeletal pathologists sub-specialize in soft tissue tumors. They use state-of-the-art morphologic and molecular techniques to provide diagnostic information that helps the treatment team develop the most effective therapeutic strategies for each patient’s unique cancer. This includes precise diagnosis, tumor characterization, and staging (a determination of whether the cancer has spread). Molecular analysis techniques help to identify biologic markers that further guide therapy.
During surgery, pathologists carefully analyze the tumor to help ensure that the surgeons completely remove the tumor with negative margins (no surrounding cancer).
Our radiologists use advanced imaging technologies to provide diagnostic and staging information. Technologies include:
- MRI to pinpoint the location, size and shape of the tumor
- Nuclear medicine including bone and PET scans, as well as PET/CT to gain integrated anatomic and functional information
We offer the full range of chemotherapeutic agents, including angiogenesis inhibitors and molecularly targeted agents to treat patients with and of the over 50 sub-types of sarcoma. Through our clinical trials program, we, are able to offer many new investigational medications for appropriately selected patients. Research conducted at our Cancer Center and elsewhere is leading to better understanding of the genetic basis of soft tissue sarcomas and pointing the way to new treatment strategies. Additional research is focused on the problem of reverse drug resistance in sarcoma.
Excellence in Surgical Care
Our orthopaedic oncology and spine surgeons are expert in the most advanced techniques, including computer-navigated surgery. They are leaders in the resection of small to massive tumors and in the development of limb preservation techniques, including the use of modern prostheses for reconstruction. Today, 90 to 95 percent of patients who would have required an amputation 30 years ago can be safely treated with limb-sparing techniques, with the goal of moving about free of pain or assistive devices.
Pioneering Radiation Therapies
Our radiation oncologists offer a range of therapies designed to shrink and destroy tumors while protecting normal tissue. Advanced technologies include:
- Brachytherapy uses radiotherapy implants at tumor margins to enhance tumor destruction
- Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), a novel technique to deliver additional radiation during surgery to sites where the proximity of critical normal tissue prevents surgeons from removing as much tissue around the tumor as they would like
- Proton beam therapy, a highly focused form of radiation, primarily used for sarcomas in the skull base and spine, which delivers precise radiation to the tumor while helping to spare surrounding healthy tissue
- MAID protocol. This integrated chemoradiation program may improve disease-free and overall survival for patients with high-risk soft tissue sarcomas
Developing Better Therapies through Research
Research conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and other cancer centers is leading to better understanding of the genetic basis of soft tissue sarcomas. Our investigators are focused on identifying genetic mutations associated with sarcoma and biologic markers that predict tumor behavior. Findings will help shape new treatment strategies. Our laboratory researchers are also developing novel strategies to reverse drug resistance in sarcoma, supported in part by the Cancer Center's world-renowned archive of sarcoma tissue and associated clinical information. Results are being used to design new clinical trials.
The Sarcoma/Oncology Computational Biology Laboratory conducts cancer genomic/bioinformatics studies in order to detect molecular patterns relevant to tumor outcome and response to conventional or novel treatments.
Through our clinical trials program, we are able to offer many new, investigational medications for appropriately selected patients. We participate in the Massachusetts General Hospital Phase I program, which offers additional Phase I trials for patients with advanced solid tumors.
Meet the Team
Meet our multidisciplinary team of sarcoma experts.
- Director, Sarcoma Oncology Program
- Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
- Investigator, Henri and Belinda Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies
- Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
- Surgical Oncology
- Department of Surgery
- Visiting Surgeon, Department of Surgery
- Director, General Surgery Residency Program
- Orthopaedic Oncology Surgeon
- Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School
- Orthopaedic Oncology Surgeon
- Instructor in Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School
- Chief, Orthopaedic Oncology Service
- Director, Musculoskeletal Oncology Fellowship Program
- Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School
- Chief, Orthopaedic Spine Center
- Director, Spine Oncology & Co-Director, Stephan L. Harris Chordoma Center
- Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School
- Department of Radiation Oncology
- Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Patient Education & Resources
A checklist of items to bring with you for your first visit and helpful information.
We offer a wide range of integrative therapies, workshops and support groups.
View select publications from the Center for Sarcoma and Connective Tissue Oncology team.