How Fibrosarcoma Is Treated

Fibrosarcoma is a rare, fast-growing tumor that forms in the soft tissue, usually in the arms, legs, or trunk. This type of cancer can affect both children and adults.

If fibrosarcoma is caught early, surgery is usually curative, but in more advanced stages a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy may be needed. The more advanced fibrosarcoma becomes, the more resistant it is to standard cancer treatments. As such, early detection and treatment are critical to improving your outlook.

This article will look at the various treatment options for fibrosarcoma.

Surgeons working

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Prescriptions

No prescription medications are indicated for the treatment of fibrosarcoma, besides chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is a class of drugs that target and kill rapidly dividing and proliferating cells, but its use in soft tissue sarcomas, such as fibrosarcoma, is controversial. It has not been shown to decrease rates of mortality (death), except in people with advanced cases.

Chemotherapy can be given intravenously (IV) via a tube placed into a vein using a needle or orally, in a pill or capsule that is swallowed. The following chemotherapy drugs may be helpful if given together prior to surgery:

  • Mesnex (mesna)
  • Lipodox, Lipodox 50, Doxil (doxorubicin)
  • Ifex (ifosfamide)
  • DTIC Dome (dacarbazine)

Generally, the number of poor responders or nonresponders to chemotherapy among fibrosarcoma patients is very high, due in part to pronounced multidrug resistance of the tumor.

Surgeries and Specialist-Driven Procedures

The mainstay of treatment for fibrosarcoma is complete excision (removal) of the tumor with an adequate margin. This means removing all of the tumor as well as a small amount of healthy surrounding tissue to ensure that all the cancer is taken out.

Oftentimes fibrosarcoma does not respond to radiation therapy (using beans of extremely high energy to kill fast-growing cancer cells) or chemotherapy, although they may be used after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence. 

The specific surgical procedure that is used depends on the tumor’s location, size, and grade of malignancy. The stage of the tumor determines whether surgery can cure or merely treat the disease.

Typically stage 1 to stage 3 fibrosarcoma is curable. This means the fibrosarcoma can be completely removed from the body. Stage 4, or fibrosarcoma that has spread (metastasized), is treatable. Treatable means the tumor(s) cannot be completely removed but symptoms may be reduced with surgical excision.

The following treatments have been cited by the National Cancer Institute as possible treatments for soft tissue sarcomas, such as fibrosarcoma, in adults:

Stage 1

At this early stage, complete removable is curative. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy or radiation, which are treatments given before the main treatment, may shrink the tumor and make resection easier to perform.

Stage 2

Surgery and radiation can limit the quick growth and spread of cancer that characterize this stage. Radiation can be used to target and shrink tumors that are hard to reach. Radiation also decreases the risk of the cancer coming back. Chemotherapy may be added before or after surgery.

Stage 3

Stage 3 fibrosarcomas are larger and higher grade. A combination of radiation therapy and surgery, including lymph node removal, is indicated. In addition, chemotherapy may be added before or after surgery.

Stage 4 (Metastatic)

At this advanced stage, surgery may be used to improve symptoms and palliative care (treatments that provide relief from symptoms) should be discussed. Surgery may be used to remove individual tumors, especially if the cancer has spread to a lung, but only a small percentage of people benefit from this.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells. A doctor who specializes in radiation treatments, called a radiation oncologist, will provide the regimen over a specified period of time.

Radiation therapy before surgery is used to shrink the tumor, while radiation after surgery is used to kill any remaining cancer cells to ensure the cancer doesn't grow back.

Targeted Therapy and Treatments on the Horizon

Clinical trials are currently testing new drugs, new combinations of standard treatments, new doses of standard drugs, and personalized medicine approaches, such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy, in the treatment of fibrosarcoma.

For instance, some research has shown that injections of matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors, such as TIMP-1-GPI fusion protein, into the tumor may decrease tumor mass and growth, providing some hope for more personalized therapeutic approaches in the future.

Summary

The three main treatment modalities for fibrosarcoma are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is most often used and offers the best possibility of curing the disease, especially if the cancer is caught early. Fibrosarcoma cells can be resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, but these treatment options may be used to shrink the tumor or slow the growth before or after surgery.

A Word From Verywell

Cancer and its treatment can cause physical symptoms and side effects, as well as emotional, social, and financial burdens. It's a lot for anyone to cope with, and you'll need a strong support system around you throughout your journey. Finding a support group in which you can ask questions and talk to others might help.

Before treatment begins, talk with your doctor and other trusted healthcare providers about the goals of each treatment in your care plan. You should also talk about the possible side effects of each specific therapy, as well as palliative care options, if necessary. Having family involved in these conversations may help you feel as though you don't have to bear the weight of this health problem alone.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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