A comprehensive approach to better treating sarcoma

Soft-tissue sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that starts in the cells of the body’s soft tissues. It can affect people of different ages, such as teenagers, young adults, and those over 60 years old. To enhance the chances of positive outcomes for patients, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) employs a comprehensive approach to treating sarcoma patients that includes an exceptional surgical program, clinical trial opportunities and a strong support system in place for both the patient and their family throughout the treatment process. With this unique structure, the MUHC Sarcoma unit is internationally recognized for its excellence.

“It is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the disease and its challenges as a first step, so we can develop the best treatments to our patients,” says Dr. Ramy Saleh, oncologist at the Cedars Cancer Centre of the MUHC and medical director of the Oncology Clinical Trials program at the Centre for Innovative Medicine (CIM) of the Research Institute of the MUHC (RI-MUHC). “In cases where cancer has not spread, the treatment usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which may take around 35 to 45 weeks in some cases. Depending on the situation, surgical procedures ranging from minor interventions to small amputations may be necessary.

Without treatment, soft tissue sarcomas may spread, or metastasize, and affect other areas of the body.

In this field, as in many others in healthcare, research plays an essential role.

“It's always worth considering taking part in clinical trials and research studies, if they're available,” says Dr. Saleh. “Through clinical trials we can test new molecules, explore new treatments and potentially enhance results. I am proud to say that our centre hosts most of the sarcoma trials being conducted in Canada. We are the largest research unit in the province and still expanding.”

Dr. Saleh’s message to sarcoma patients and their loved ones throughout the treatment process is to have patience and trust in the medical professionals who are overseeing their care.

“It is important to prioritize spending quality time together and maintaining a positive attitude, as this can greatly benefit the well-being of both patients and their loved ones.”