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On Sarcoma with Dr. Ed Kim

On Sarcoma with Dr. Ed Kim

Sarcomas are cancers that arise in tissues like bone, muscle connective tissue and other soft tissues. Although rare (only 1% of cancers), they can occur in almost any part of the body and at any age. Sarcomas occur in two forms: soft tissue sarcomas and bone sarcomas. Each kind of sarcoma is different, presents with different symptoms, and requires a tailored approach to treatment.

Sarcoma is Dr. Ed Kim’s specialty. He’s excited that there are, for the first time in years, new drugs to treat sarcomas, and advances in both radiation and surgery techniques that make treating this disease more effective. “We’ve been decades without new drugs for this rare disease, so I’m glad to have more tools in my toolbox,” said Dr. Kim.

In terms of radiation modalities in a sarcoma care plan, there are stereotactic radiation – targeted radiation given in fewer, high-dose treatments – and proton therapy. Proton therapy is particularly suited to sarcomas in what Dr. Kim calls, “delicate and challenging anatomical locations,” that is, near radiation-sensitive organs such as the heart. Proton therapy can improve sarcoma outcomes in those who have been previously irradiated (tumor recurrences), as well. 

This year, only 12,390 people will be diagnosed with soft-tissue sarcoma in the United States, which has a five-year overall survival rate of 64%. If you are diagnosed with a sarcoma, Dr. Kim recommends you be treated at a specialty cancer center that has a lot of experience, since it they are rare cancers that require specific expertise.