Life after surgery for a soft tissue sarcoma

This information is about life after having surgery for a soft tissue sarcoma. You may find it useful to read the information about surgery for a soft tissue sarcoma first.

Life after limb-sparing surgery

The long-term effects of limb-sparing surgery depend on the part of your body affected and the operation you had. The best person to ask about your operation is your surgeon.

After limb-sparing surgery, the limb might not work as well as it used to. Physiotherapy is an important part of your recovery. You will have exercises to do that help get your limb working as well as possible. These can be hard work, but it is important to keep going with them.

Joint replacements

If you have had a joint replacement, you will be able to walk, swim and do most of the things you could do before. But your doctor might advise you not to play high-impact sports like hockey, football, tennis or rugby. These activities could damage or loosen the new joint. Check with your surgeon about any special instructions they have for what activities you can do.

If you have had a shoulder replacement, you might find it harder to lift your arm above your shoulder. After any kind of joint replacement, you will have physiotherapy to help you get as much movement back as possible.

Watch: Life after bone cancer for a young adult | Olivia's story

Watch: Life after bone cancer for a young adult | Olivia's story

Life after amputation

After amputation, most people have an artificial limb (called a prosthesis). There are artificial limbs designed to let you do all types of physical activity. These activities include walking, swimming, running, cycling and playing sports.

Different types of prosthesis let you do different things. Some people have one for wearing day to day, and an extra one specially designed for something like swimming or doing athletics.

Sex and fertility

Sex and relationships might be something you worry about as soon as you find out you have cancer. Or you may only notice changes to your sex life as you go through treatment, or after it’s finished. We have information about the possible physical and emotional effects cancer can have on your sex life and relationships.

If you have sex during cancer treatment, it is important to protect yourself and your partner. It is also important to prevent a pregnancy during this time. If you have any questions about this, ask your doctor or nurse for advice. We say more about this in our information about sex and relationships.

How will I feel?

You might feel lots of different emotions. You might be tearful, angry, fed up or depressed at times. You might feel less confident, and that you'll never be able to live a normal life or be in a relationship. These feelings are normal, and it's important that you get support to help you cope with them.

Other people's reactions can be also hard to cope with. You might worry about what your friends think, or how they're going to treat you. The thought of going back into school, college or work can be scary. Even people in your family who you are close to might not know what to say or do. Others might say things that sound stupid or seem hurtful. Most people find it helps to talk about how they are feeling.

You could talk to:

  • your specialist nurse or keyworker
  • your family or friends
  • a counsellor – your doctor or nurse can arrange this
  • other young people in a similar situation, for example through our Online Community or a support group.

Reading our Cancer guide for young people may also be helpful.

Follow-up

When you finish your treatment, your doctor will talk to you about what happens next. They will explain some of the long-term risks that soft tissue sarcoma and its treatment could have for you. They will arrange to see you regularly in clinic to see how you are getting on.

Back to Sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcomas

Soft tissue sarcomas are cancers that develop from cells in the soft, supporting tissues of the body.

Having tests for sarcomas

You might have some tests when you visit your GP or hospital, these will help diagnose a soft tissue sarcoma.

Treatment for sarcomas

The main treatments for soft tissue sarcomas are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.