Considering Surgery for Sarcoma

OncoLink
Last Modified: September 17, 2012

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Question

My dog has a soft tissue sarcoma just distal to his stifle. It is about the size of the end of your small finger. I am concerned about having surgery and not getting all the margins...is surgery the best option?

Lili Duda, VMD, MBE, DACVR Veterinary Radiation Oncologist- University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Answer

When considering treatment options for soft tissue (cutaneous and subcutaneous) sarcomas, factors to consider include the grade, size, location, and rate of growth of the tumor. In general, the first treatment choice for localized tumors that have not spread is complete surgical removal with "clean" margins. If good surgical margins are not obtained, radiation therapy is often recommended to eliminate any residual cancer cells. For slowly growing, low grade sarcomas located low down on the legs (below the elbow or hock) "watchful waiting" is sometimes recommended following incomplete surgical removal if radiation therapy is not an option. If a tumor is large and causing symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or chronic infection, complete surgical removal through a limb amputation may be a good option in many pets.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire transcript from When a Beloved Pet has Cancer.