Sarcomas are tumors that arise from connective tissues such as muscle, fat, nerves, and bone. As such, they can occur in any area of the body. There are over 50 different histologic subtypes of sarcoma, including desmoid tumors.

The primary treatment for most sarcomas is an operation to remove the tumor if it is symptomatic or has not spread to other locations.

Our surgeons publish academic advances in sarcoma management and participate on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Sarcoma panel that establishes practice guidelines. Specially trained cancer surgeons from the Department of Surgery adhere to the principles of sarcoma surgery and work as part of a multidisciplinary team to develop the optimal treatment strategy for each particular sarcoma. As such, we meet weekly with an entire team of sarcoma specialists to discuss each patient's treatment plan.

Sarcoma scan

Sarcomas occurring within the abdomen and retroperitoneum are often complex tumors involving multiple other organs or structures. Specially trained cancer surgeons use their judgment and considerable experience working with other physicians and surgeons to design an operation that removes the tumor while preserving critical structures or reconstructing major blood vessels.

For patients with localized sarcomas that cannot be completely removed by conventional techniques, our surgeons have pioneered a technique of radiofrequency assisted debulking of large symptomatic abdominal and pelvic tumors.

Faculty publications on abdominal sarcoma

Thigh sarcoma MRI

Sarcomas of the extremity (arm or leg) require pre-operative planning to optimize the chance of controlling the tumor while preserving as much normal motor function as possible. For example, tumors occurring on the extremities may require radiation therapy either before of after an operation to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Other techniques to preserve limb function include heated isolated limb infusion of high dose chemotherapy and plastic reconstructive techniques.

We work with our colleagues in Orthopedic Oncology to treat extremity sarcomas. As a patient, you will have an entire multidisciplinary team working on your behalf to assure that you get the best treatment possible.

Faculty publications on extremity sarcoma:


Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) are a specific type of sarcoma that arise from the gastrointestinal tract and have distinct pathologic and biologic features. The timing and type of operation for these tumors depend on a number of criteria that are reviewed for each patient at our multidisciplinary sarcoma conference.

As part of a national trial for GIST patients, the cancer surgeons at the University of Colorado have developed a particular expertise in managing patients with this type of sarcoma.

Faculty publications on GIST