Sarcoma in Children

Osteosarcoma, Ewing, Rhabdomyosarcoma, and Other Soft Tissue Sarcomas

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Sarcoma is cancer that affects connective tissue, including muscle (rhabdomyosarcoma) and bone (osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma). Each type of sarcoma is treated differently. At Duke Children's, our sarcoma specialists offer advanced diagnosis and the latest treatments personalized to your child's specific type of sarcoma. We address all your child’s needs -- from managing symptoms and providing physical therapy for rehabilitation to ongoing emotional support and follow-up care. You get comprehensive, age-specific care that’s focused on your child’s health today and as they grow into adulthood.

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We tailor treatments to your child's sarcoma, so your child’s care plan may include more than one approach. We make sure you understand all of the options and help you decide what’s best for your child. You’ll know what to expect, and you’ll have all the support and guidance you need during treatment.


Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells or stops them from growing, with the goal of preventing cancer from recurring. It is administered through an IV infusion, a pill or liquid that is swallowed, or an injection. 

Radiation Therapy

External-beam radiation therapy is delivered from a machine that focuses high-energy X-ray beams on tumors to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. It is used to shrink the tumor before surgery or to kill any remaining cancer cells that were not removed during surgery. Our pediatric radiation oncologists use advanced imaging techniques to determine the exact location of the tumor when focusing the X-ray beams, to minimize damage to surrounding tissues.


Surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue is usually part of sarcoma treatment. We work to maximize organ and limb function for your child while removing the entire tumor.

About Duke Children's

Learn more about Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center.

Family-Friendly Support Services

You have access to a variety of services to make your child’s experience as positive as possible and to support your family throughout treatment.

Extended Cancer Outpatient Services

We offer outpatient services -- such as chemotherapy, transfusions, and lab tests -- 12 hours a day, seven days a week at Duke Children’s Valvano Day Hospital. This means your child won’t need to be admitted to the hospital just because they feel ill or need treatment on a day when their doctor’s office is closed.

Quality-of-Life Care

Our team focuses on managing symptoms and other aspects of treatment that affect your child’s quality of life. We help with pain management, supportive nutrition, relaxation techniques, and more. We’re here to improve your child’s and your family’s well-being during treatment and hospitalization.

Teen and Young Adult Program

Teens and young adults are too old to be treated like young kids, but adult care might not be quite right for them either. Our Teen and Young Adult Program brings together the expertise of pediatric and adult cancer specialists to determine what’s best for each person, along with personalized psychological support. We customize treatment and services based on your child’s unique needs, including support and guidance to help them cope with the effects of treatment on their social life and their high school or college activities.  

Childhood Cancer Survivorship Care

Once treatment is complete, you can count on us for continuing support. We offer long-term follow-up services for preventive health care, including screenings, ongoing surveillance, and care for symptoms that develop later as a result of treatment. Our doctors and nurses work with social workers and child psychologists who can offer support and assistance with school-related or personal issues. In addition, we can help your child transition to adult cancer care services when they’re ready.

Child and Adolescent Life Team

We try to make your child's treatment a little easier on the whole family. Whether it's explaining a procedure, offering encouragement, or arranging fun activities during therapy or during a hospital stay, your child gets care in a welcoming, kid-friendly environment. In addition, you and your family can get emotional support and education to help you cope as your child goes through treatment and recovery.

Care Coordination and Support

Our social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child needs. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect with resources, and manage the details related to your child’s care. Our nurse coordinators can help you schedule appointments for tests, treatments, and other medical visits.

Ronald McDonald House Family Room

Staffed by volunteers, the family room is here to make your time at the hospital a little more comfortable. You can grab a light meal, shower, do laundry, or use a computer with internet access.

Personalized Care for Your Child's Sarcoma

Expert Diagnosis
​We use a full range of tests to learn what type of cancer your child has, whether it has spread, and what course of treatment would be best. We take a sample of the tumor, by needle biopsy if possible, or through minimally invasive surgery when a larger sample is necessary. Doctors may use imaging tests, such as CT, MRI, bone scans, and PET scans, take bone marrow samples or run other tests to develop a treatment plan. We do what is necessary, but we do not subject your child to unnecessary testing.

Recognized for Quality Care
We’re one of a small number of U.S. hospitals designated as Level I children's surgery centers by the American College of Surgeons. This designation recognizes our commitment to providing the very best, safest care for kids.

Team of Sarcoma Specialists
Your child's sarcoma care team includes pediatric oncologists, surgical oncologists, pathologists, and radiation oncologists. They work closely with physical therapists, social workers, psychologists, and pediatricians to provide your child with complete care. If needed, we'll bring in additional team members to help minimize symptoms and support you and your child every step of the way. Pediatric and adult sarcoma specialists work as a team, so the transition from pediatric care to adult treatment is seamless.

Children's Oncology Group
Our sarcoma specialists are also researchers who collaborate with cancer specialists worldwide through the Children's Oncology Group, the world’s largest child and adolescent cancer research organization. That means your child benefits from the combined expertise of leading cancer researchers and has access to the latest treatments, including clinical trials. Our team will discuss potential treatments and help you decide whether a clinical trial is right for your child.

Best Children's Hospital in NC

Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties.

This page was medically reviewed on 05/16/2023 by