As soft tissue sarcomas are rare, surgery is usually carried out by a surgeon who specialises in treating them. The surgeon will often be part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) and be based in a specialist sarcoma unit. The unit is often part of a large cancer hospital.
Sometimes, people have a lump removed and only find out it’s a soft tissue sarcoma after the surgery. In this situation, you will be referred to a sarcoma specialist who is part of an MDT after your initial surgery.
The aim of most sarcoma surgery is to remove the tumour completely without leaving anything behind. Usually, an operation called a wide local excision is done. This means removing the cancer along with a border (margin) of healthy, cancer-free tissue all around it. The border of healthy tissue is removed to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in that area. If the tumour is in the tummy (abdomen), it can sometimes be difficult to remove it with enough normal tissue to get clear margins. This is because the tumour may be very close to vital organs.
It is difficult to give general information about sarcoma surgery because the type of operation you have will depend on where in your body the sarcoma is. Many sarcomas are in the arm or leg, but they can grow anywhere. Your surgeon will discuss your operation with you in detail.