Targeted Treatment for Sarcomas
Sarcomas are cancerous tumors that form in soft tissue or bone throughout the body. Depending on where they occur, sarcomas can be difficult to treat with radiation therapy because it can damage nearby healthy tissue.
Scripps Proton Therapy Center in San Diego uses precise proton radiation treatments to treat sarcomas while protecting surrounding healthy tissue. The accuracy is even further enhanced by our advanced imaging and pencil-beam scanning technology, which focuses a narrow proton beam — smaller than the width of a pencil — to precisely target tumors. As a result, patients may experience fewer side effects from radiation treatment and a reduced risk of secondary cancer.
The clinical and scientific teams have more than 90 years of combined experience treating patients with proton therapy. Learn more about the experts at the center.
From diagnosis and treatment to navigation and support, Scripps offers comprehensive cancer care. Learn how proton therapy further complements these services.
Precise radiation therapy for sarcomas
Because sarcomas can be located close to critical and sensitive organs, treating these tumors with radiation can be especially challenging. Radiation must be delivered with high precision and the utmost care to maximize the dosage to cancerous cells and minimize harmful exposure beyond the tumor.
Ideally, radiation therapy for sarcomas will:
- Target the tumor only
- Protect your healthy organs and tissues
- Maintain your quality of life during treatment
With any radiation technique, the potential for serious complications can be high in some cases. This can lead to a difficult choice between giving:
- a less-than-optimal dose to the tumor (which reduces the chance of remission); or
- an ideal dose to the tumor with a higher risk of radiation to healthy tissues.
Benefits of proton therapy for sarcomas
- Proton therapy is a highly precise form of radiation treatment that enables us to target tumors within intricate areas. Protons deposit their maximum energy directly in the tumor, so exposure to nearby organs and tissues such as your heart, lungs, spine, reproductive organs and digestive system is greatly reduced.
- Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT), available in California only at the Scripps Proton Therapy Center, allows doctors to more selectively place high-dose radiation on the tumor, while simultaneously reducing the dose to surrounding critical organs. This can potentially result in higher control rates, and lower the risk of side effects from the radiation treatment.
- Proton therapy may offer a therapeutic advantage over traditional radiation techniques in the treatment of sarcoma, according to the 2009 sarcoma guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).
- Many studies have shown an increased rate of secondary cancer in surrounding areas years after patients receive radiation therapy. Research has shown that proton therapy lowers the total dose to normal tissue, and this could lower the risk of secondary cancer due to radiation treatment.
- Combined treatments of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may be needed for some tumors. Proton therapy reduces the amount of radiation-related toxicity, which increases the likelihood that patients can complete treatment with fewer interruptions or delays. It may also improve tolerance to (or ability to) tolerate other treatments, particularly chemotherapy.
- When compared with conventional passively scattered protons, Scripps Proton Therapy Center’s intensity-modulated pencil-beam scanning technique [IMPT] can treat more complex tumor shapes, vary the dosage within the tumor and reduce the amount of radiation to surrounding tissues.
Types of cancer treated
Scripps Proton Therapy Center provides advanced radiation treatments for sarcomas including:
Treating previously irradiated areas is challenging and very risky. The healthy tissues around the recurrent tumor do not “forget” the previous radiation dose, and any added dose continues to increase the risk of normal tissue injury. Proton therapy enables doctors to better concentrate the dose to the target and limit it elsewhere, allowing re-treatment with radiation in selected patients.
Support services for our cancer patients
When you are living with cancer, you may need more than expert medical treatment. Our cancer specialists are here to help you and your family every step of the way, from scheduling appointments and answering questions to finding support services and other resources.
We offer a wide variety of services to help speed your recovery, including:
- Home health care services
- Nutrition services through Scripps Center for Weight Management and Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine
- Psychological and emotional care
- Cancer support groups
- Complementary medicine through Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine cancer care program
Proton therapy is a highly precise form of external radiation therapy that can be used for tumor control in select patients. All cancer treatments have advantages and disadvantages. Be sure to discuss these, as well as your treatment options, with your cancer specialist.
Evidence supporting proton therapy for sarcoma
- Assessment of radiation-induced second cancer risks in proton therapy and IMRT for organs inside the primary radiation field
- Effectiveness and safety of spot scanning proton radiation therapy for chordomas and chondrosarcomas of the skull base: first long-term report
- Proton radiotherapy for orbital rhabdomyosarcoma: clinical outcome and a dosimetric comparison with photons
- Re-irradiation with scanned charged particle beams in recurrent tumours of the head and neck: acute toxicity and feasibility