Chemotherapy refers to the administration of certain medications to kill cancer cells. Sometimes, they are given before surgery (also called neoadjuvant chemotherapy) to shrink the tumour and make it easier to be removed.
It also treats any microscopic disease (kills any tumour cells that may have spread to other parts of the body, but cannot yet be detected). Giving neoadjuvant chemotherapy also allows us to see if the tumour is responsive to the treatment, by calculating what proportion of the tumour cells have been killed by the chemotherapy. In some cases, chemotherapy is also given after surgery (called adjuvant chemotherapy).
Chemotherapy is administered by your medical oncologist, who will monitor the response of the tumour to the chemotherapy, and also look out for any potential complications such as hair loss, nausea, vomiting, decrease in normal blood counts and complications related to the heart or lungs.
Whether you get chemotherapy or not depends on a number of factors including: your overall health status, the type of tumour you have, and whether the tumour has spread to other parts of the body or not. Some sarcomas respond to chemotherapy, whilst others do not.