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UCLA Researchers: Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment Can Be Shortened By Weeks And Still Effective

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles found that certain cancer treatments may be shortened without lowering its effectiveness.

The new study focused on soft tissue sarcoma, which is a rare cancer that starts in soft tissues such as muscle, nerves, fat and tendons, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the standard treatments used for patients with adult soft tissue sarcoma, the NCI says. New types of treatment are also being tested in clinical trials.

UCLA researchers said that while many soft tissue sarcoma patients go through a five-week course of radiation therapy before getting the tumor surgically removed, treatment can be condensed to five days instead.

"Shortening the radiation therapy from five weeks to five days has been a very meaningful change for patients," said lead author Anusha Kalbasi. "Five weeks of daily treatments is a burdensome commitment for patients. The daily back-and-forth can be expensive and time consuming, and it can really interfere with work, school or parenting. So finding a way to safely shorten the radiation treatment is a significant advancement in improving the quality of care for patients with hard-to-treat cancers like sarcoma."

Fifty-two adults diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma underwent the condensed radiation therapy, which was followed by surgery. Researchers monitored them for an average of 2.5 years.

The team reports that less than six percent of the patients with at least two years of follow-up had a recurrence of their tumor. Kalbasi said those results are consistent with studies following patients on a typical five-week regimen.

Patients may prefer the five-day radiation therapy regimen and could result in more patients having access to care at high-volume facilities that specialize in treating soft tissue sarcoma, according to Kalbasi.

Researchers say they plan to continue monitoring the 52 adults for at least five years to confirm the safety and effectiveness of the five-day radiation treatment.

Soft tissue sarcoma is usually found in the chest, arms, legs and abdomen, but it can develop anywhere in the body, the NCI says.

UCLA's study was published Feb. 13 in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

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