Research in soft tissue sarcoma

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We are always learning more about cancer. Researchers and healthcare professionals use what they learn from research studies to develop better ways to treat soft tissue sarcoma. The following is a selection of research showing promise for treating soft tissue sarcoma.

We've included information from PubMed, US National Library of Medicine (PMID). Each item has an identity number that links to a brief overview (sometimes called an abstract).

Personalized medicine

Personalized medicine is also called precision medicine. It helps doctors choose treatments based on certain genes and molecules that make up cancer cells. Personalizing treatment in this way makes it more likely that a treatment will work, reduces damage to healthy cells and lessens harmful side effects.

Some research studies to improve treatments for soft tissue sarcoma are focused on personalized medicine. Recognizing that some sarcomas have certain gene changes that respond better to different treatments allows for more specific treatments based on these unique tumour genetics (Nature Communications, PMID 35705558; BMC Cancer, PMID 34740331; EMBO Molecular Medicine, PMID 33047515).


Researchers are looking for the best ways to treat soft tissue sarcoma using chemotherapy.

New chemotherapy drugs and combinations to treat soft tissue sarcoma include:

  • 13-deoxy, 5-iminodoxorubicin (GPX-150) (Cancer Medicine, PMID 31016866)
  • trabectedin with or without doxorubicin for advanced leiomyosarcoma (Annals of Oncology, PMID 33932507; Lancet Oncology, PMID 35835135)
  • adding temozolomide to vincristine and irinotecan for relapsed or recurrent rhabdomyosarcoma (Journal of Clinical Oncology, PMID 34343032)
  • an anthracycline drug and ifosfamide before surgery (called neoadjuvant chemotherapy)

New ways of using chemotherapy to treat soft tissue sarcomas include:

Radiation therapy

Researchers are looking for the best ways to treat soft tissue sarcoma using radiation therapy. This includes looking at different types of, doses of and schedules for radiation therapy to improve how well it works and to lessen side effects.

Dose-escalation radiation therapy gradually increases the dose to both help people better tolerate the radiation and to improve how effective it is. Researchers are studying dose-escalation radiation therapy to treat soft tissue sarcoma and it shows promise in treating unresectable Ewing sarcoma (International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, PMID 35568246).

NBTXR3 is a radiosensitizer (a drug that makes cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy). Researchers are looking at giving NBTXR3 with radiation therapy to treat locally advanced soft tissue sarcoma (International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, PMID 35850363).

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs to target specific molecules (such as proteins) on the surface of cancer cells or inside them. These molecules help send signals that tell cells to grow or divide. By targeting these molecules, the drugs may stop the growth and spread of cancer cells with limited harm to normal cells.

Pazopanib along with chemoradiation before surgery may be effective in treating certain soft tissue sarcomas. Research shows this combination improved outcomes (Lancet Oncology, PMID 32702309).

New targeted therapy drugs may be effective in treating soft tissue sarcomas, especially when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (advanced or metastatic soft tissue sarcoma). Researchers often study targeted therapy drugs in combination with chemotherapy or after chemotherapy. Some of the targeted therapy drugs that researchers are studying include:


Immunotherapy helps to strengthen or restore the immune system's ability to fight cancer. One type of immunotherapy is called an immune checkpoint inhibitor. The immune system normally stops itself from attacking healthy cells in the body by using specific proteins called checkpoints, which are made by some immune system cells. Cancer cells sometimes use these checkpoints to hide and avoid being attacked by the immune system. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that work by blocking the checkpoint proteins so immune system cells, such as T cells, can see, attack and kill the cancer cells.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors showing promise in treating soft tissue sarcoma include:

Learn more about cancer research

Researchers continue to try to find out more about cancer. Clinical trials are research studies that test new ways to treat cancer. They also look at ways to prevent, find and manage cancer.

Clinical trials provide information about the safety and effectiveness of new approaches to see if they should become widely available. Most of the standard treatments for cancer were first shown to be effective through clinical trials.

Find out more about clinical trials.

Expert review and references

  • Sarah Cohen-Gogo, MD, PhD

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