Mercy’s cancer specialists are highly experienced at diagnosing and treating sarcoma. Early detection is the best way to prevent serious complications of sarcoma such as limb amputation. If caught before it spreads, your odds of successful treatment for sarcoma are much higher. At Mercy, you’ll find the latest treatments and technologies for fighting sarcoma, plus the personal support you need throughout your cancer journey.

What is Sarcoma?

Sarcomas are rare cancers that form in the bones and soft tissues of the body. It can affect the nerves, muscles, fat, bones, blood vessels and other tissues throughout the body. There are more than 70 types of sarcoma.

Sarcoma Treatment Options

Your personalized treatment plan will depend on the type, location and stage of your sarcoma. And your care team may include other Mercy specialists beyond your cancer care team. For example, if you have osteosarcoma, you may receive care from an orthopedic surgeon. Sarcoma is generally treated with a combination of drug therapies, radiation therapy & surgery.


Several types of surgery are used to treat sarcoma, and Mercy surgeons preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. For some sarcomas, surgically removing the tumor is the only treatment needed. For others, additional surgery is required. Examples of procedures include:

  • Mohs microsurgery – tumors are removed from the skin in thin layers. Each layer is checked for cancer cells, and layers continue to be removed until no more cancer is found.
  • Wide local excision – this technique removes tumors along with some surrounding healthy tissue. This helps ensure no cancer cells are left behind.
  • Joint reconstruction – this procedure replaces joints damaged by cancer with customized artificial joints for the hips, knees, shoulders or elbows.
  • Vascularized bone grafting – this technique uses a piece of bone (with blood vessels attached to it) from another part of the body or another person to replace bones and vessels damaged by cancer.
  • Amputation and limb-sparing surgery – amputation removes all or part of a limb, such as an arm or leg. But it’s rarely performed. Today, tumors are often removed without amputating limbs, which is called limb-sparing surgery.
  • Rotationplasty – this procedure is an alternative to full amputation. The cancerous section of the middle leg is removed, and the lower leg is reattached at the thigh. But the lower leg is rotated so that the ankle joint functions as a new knee. A prosthetic limb replaces the lower leg.


Chemotherapy medications travel throughout the body, destroying cancer cells so they can’t grow or multiply. These medications may be given alone or with other treatments like radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to kill sarcoma cells or keep them from growing. Advanced imaging is used to deliver precisely targeted radiation beams to sarcoma tumors. Radiation can be delivered using a machine outside the body or by implanting a tiny radioactive source in the body (brachytherapy). These therapies can help keep tumors from coming back after surgery.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy drugs identify and attack specific molecules (molecular targets) on cancer cells that help them grow and spread.

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