©2019 by Northwest Sarcoma Foundation.

WHAT IS RADIATION THERAPY?

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays similar to x-rays to kill cancer cells. This treatment may be used before surgery to try to shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove. This is called neo-adjuvant radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy is most often used after surgery to kill off any cancer cells that may have been left behind. This is called adjuvant radiation therapy . If you do have radiation therapy after surgery, you will be given it 2 - 4 weeks after your operation. This is to give the area time to heal before the radiation therapy starts. The treatment is given for up to 6 weeks. The exact time will depend on the type, size and position of the sarcoma.

Sometimes, radiation therapy may be the main treatment for sarcoma. This is usually when the position of the cancer makes surgery to remove it too difficult to do.

Radiation therapy can also be used to treat symptoms or try to slow down a cancer that has already spread or come back since it was first treated. 
For soft tissue sarcoma, radiation therapy is used.

In primary bone tumors and soft tissue sarcomas, radiation therapy can be used to:

  • Treat bone cancers in parts of the body that cannot be removed

  • Shrink tumors before surgery

  • Shrink bone cancers that are not responding well to chemotherapy

  • To shrink secondary cancers

  • To try to control the growth of advanced cancers

  • After surgery, to try to stop the sarcoma coming back