Sarcomas are cancers that develop in connective tissues, including bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, fibrous tissues, veins, arteries, nerves, skin and fatty tissue.
Each year, about 13,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, and about 3,500 are diagnosed with bone cancer. Together, all types of sarcoma make up just one percent of all new cancer cases.
People with rare cancers like sarcoma have better outcomes if they get care at a center like ours, where experienced physicians treat many people with this disease. At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we offer comprehensive treatment from a team of experts who specialize in soft tissue sarcomas and bone cancers.
In recent years, physicians have gained a better understanding of sarcoma growth patterns, the risks of sarcoma spreading and the most effective treatment options. As a result, survival after sarcoma treatment has improved tremendously.
Fred Hutch has been a leader in sarcoma care for more than 40 years, providing world-class treatment to thousands of people with sarcoma and related conditions. We guide you every step of the way, combining our expertise in soft tissue sarcoma and bone cancer with our commitment to meeting your unique needs.
From the first time you come to see us, your care team will begin getting to know you and your family. What are your questions? What are your concerns?
At your first appointment, your medical oncologist will also explain your disease, including your subtype. They will tell you how it’s treated and which tests you need to help plan your care. Before you leave, your team will make sure you understand the next steps.
To confirm a sarcoma diagnosis, you will get a clinical exam from a doctor as well as imaging tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans or positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Then, a biopsy will double-check the imaging results. The process is similar for bone cancers, but we may also use a bone scan.
At Fred Hutch, we treat more sarcoma patients every year than any other cancer center in the region.
We think of treatment as a collaborative effort. Treatment looks different for each person, depending on your diagnosis and subtype. Taking a team approach, we talk to each other and you to make treatment decisions. Surgery is the most common treatment for sarcoma, and it may be recommended along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy — or used on its own.
At Fred Hutch, we surround you with experts who focus completely on cancer care. A handful of people make up the core of your care team. You will have a medical oncologist and a registered nurse who are experienced in caring for people with sarcoma. At some visits, you might see an advanced practice provider. Most patients get part of their treatment from infusion nurses. A patient care coordinator will schedule your visits.
The safest, most effective and most widely accepted therapies for cancer are known as the “standard of care.” For many patients, these therapies will be a large part of their treatment. At Fred Hutch, we provide all standard therapies for sarcoma. We know how to choose the right ones for you and how to deliver them to give you the best chance at a full recovery.
Our physicians and researchers are always asking how we can make sarcoma treatments more effective and reduce side effects as much as possible. This is why we do clinical trials (also called clinical studies). Through these studies, we are able to offer you therapies that aren’t offered everywhere. A therapy that is going through trials today may become the new standard of care tomorrow.
Along with treating your cancer, a group of world-class professionals is here to support you. This team includes nurses, registered dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and psychologists. We also include supportive care services for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
When someone close to you is diagnosed with sarcoma, you might step into the role of caregiver. Being a caregiver can mean many things, from lending a hand with daily living tasks to helping with medical decisions. It can also mean dealing with your own emotions and stress.
At Fred Hutch, caregivers are valuable members of a patient’s care team. We see every day that your presence and your support make a difference. We know that what your friend or family member is going through affects you, too.
Part of our mission is to help you take care of yourself. Caring for yourself is good for your physical, mental and emotional health. It also helps you give your best to your loved one. Our social workers, Spiritual Health team and Patient and Family Resource Center staff are here to help support you.
Fred Hutch has a wide range of clinical trials that focus on the treatment and management of sarcomas. Our patients have access to many clinical trials — from large, international studies to early-stage clinical trials where a patient may be one of only a few in the world getting a new therapy, and everything in between.
Plus, Fred Hutch is one of just a few U.S. cancer centers that receive funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for the conduct of new anticancer agents and new treatment options for patients with sarcoma. We have many immunotherapy clinical trials that are testing a wide range of options such as T-cell therapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors, vaccines, virus therapies, additional antibody therapies and other medicines that boost the body’s anti-cancer immune response.
When your care team creates your treatment plan, they will talk with you about joining a clinical trial. You will get information about all of the clinical trials that may be a good match for you and your diagnosis. If you decide to join a clinical trial at Fred Hutch, you will see the same physicians, nurses and care staff that you are comfortable and familiar with. Our sarcoma team’s goal is to seamlessly include clinical trials in the care plans for all patients who may be eligible and who want to join.
Your care team will talk with you about if you might want to join a study and why. This can help you make the decision that is best for you.