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What is Sarcoma?

Sarcomas are made up of cancers that start in the extremities with examples including cancers that start in bone, cartilage, muscle, nerves, and fat. There are nearly 100 different types and subtypes of sarcoma and our orthopedic oncology specialists are experts in the management of all types of this disease.

Cancer that starts in other parts of the body (such as the breast, prostate, lung, kidney or thyroid) can often spread to bones—which can cause pain at first—but if the cancer in the bone gets large enough, it can cause the bone to break without trauma, called a pathologic fracture. Pathologic fractures can be extremely painful and have difficulty healing without surgery and radiation therapy. In addition, they can cause significant delays in care of the overall cancer. For this reason, specialty expertise in orthopedic oncology is critical for the appropriate management of skeletal lesions from all types of cancer.

What Are Signs and Symptoms of Sarcoma?

Signs and symptoms of sarcoma can include the following:

⦁ Weight loss
⦁ Bone pain
⦁ Unusual bone breaks—such as without injury or from a non-serious injury
⦁ Belly pain
⦁ Feeling a lump beneath the skin that may or may not hurt

How is Sarcoma Treated?

If your sarcoma treatment plan includes surgery, the type of surgery you get will depend on the type of cancer and how severe it is.

Sarcoma resection is the catch-all term that describes removal of the sarcoma, which may include:

  • If you have a rare and aggressive type of bone cancer called bone sarcoma, it typically attacks your legs, arms, and pelvis. So, doctors will focus on performing a surgery that removes the cancer while leaving you with as much of your limbs as possible. But, you might end up with a prosthesis, or artificial limb, afterwards.
  • Soft tissue sarcoma: Like its name, soft tissue sarcoma affects the soft, or connective tissue—which can be practically anywhere in the body. Doctors aim to remove the tumor completely to keep the cancer from spreading elsewhere in the body. Depending on what they remove, you might need to have plastic and reconstructive surgery to rebuild blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissues.
  • Doctors use prophylactic repair in efforts to ward off bone breaks by inserting metal into the affected bone to make it stronger. This procedure can also reduce your pain and keep other problems associated with bone cancer at bay such as decreased mobility and delayed cancer treatment.
  • Joint revision involves replacing joints that have given out as a result of the cancer or because of major bone loss. Sometimes, this includes implants designed on your body’s individual needs.
  • Fracture repair is a procedure that repairs bones that have broken into bits and pieces. In this case, fixing the break typically requires metal pins, rods, screws, or plates to keep the damaged bone in place.

Capital Health Cancer Center works closely with Rothman Orthopaedic Institute’s Orthopaedic Oncology team to focus on the treatment of primary cancers of the extremities and other types of cancer that spread to the skeleton. The physicians from Rothman Orthopaedics focus solely on orthopedic oncology and span across Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.

Rothman Orthopaedics handles the largest volume of these rare tumors in the Mid-Atlantic region. The orthopedic oncologists at Capital Health Cancer Center and Rothman Orthopaedics are national leaders in the management of these conditions. With our partnership, patients receive the highest quality of care from nationally recognized health care institutions.