What to Know About Radiation for Soft Tissue Sarcoma

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You can’t see or feel radiation, but it kills cancer cells.

Radiation therapy is also called radiotherapy. It is another way to treat soft tissue sarcomas. A combination of surgery and radiation is the most common way to treat this cancer.

The goal of radiation is to kill cancer cells by directing strong X-rays at the tumor. You see a radiation oncologist for this. He or she decides how often you need radiation and at what dose.

In some cases, your doctor may want you to get radiation before surgery to make the tumor smaller. Before surgery, it's likely you'll get external beam treatments. External beam radiation comes from a machine outside of the body. You get it at a hospital or clinic five days a week for several weeks. The treatments last only a couple of minutes and are painless. In most cases, radiation will not permanently change the way your skin looks.

In some cases, your doctor will want you to have radiation after surgery to make sure that any cancer cells that may have been left after surgery are all killed. When you get radiation after surgery, the doctor may use external beam or internal radiation. Internal radiation is also called brachytherapy. For brachytherapy, the doctor places a catheter or implant of radioactive material right next to the area in which the cancer has been removed. Brachytherapy is used far less often than external beam radiation to treat soft tissue sarcoma. If surgery is not a good idea for you, your doctor may only use radiation to kill cancer cells.


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