What is retroperitoneal sarcoma?
Sarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in the soft tissues of the body, such as fat cells, muscle or blood vessels. The retroperitoneum is the back of the abdomen, next to the kidneys. About 20% of sarcomas are retroperitoneal.
What is the treatment for retroperitoneal sarcoma?
Every sarcoma case is different, but as a general rule, treatment will be surgical. In some patients, drug or radiation therapy may be combined with surgery. These nonsurgical treatments can sometimes be given before surgery in an attempt to shrink the tumor to help make removal easier and reduce the chance of microscopic cancer cells in the patient’s system.
Why is retroperitoneal sarcoma surgery especially challenging?
Retroperitoneal sarcoma tumors can grow to a very large size and press against or spread into surrounding organs and major blood vessels.
In fact, up to half of all surgeries for retroperitoneal sarcoma may involve removing one kidney and a portion of the large intestines or colon. In some cases, major blood vessels may need to be removed and reconstructed. The surgeon must make careful decisions about how to remove the entire tumor while preserving the surrounding tissue as much as possible.
Overall, surgeries for retroperitoneal sarcoma are among the most complex done in the human body. It’s important to seek an experienced specialist with extensive knowledge of the disease and the technical skill for a complex surgical procedure. These operations typically involve coordination with multiple teams to make sure the patient has the benefit of several trained specialists.