MedStar Health is home to cancer specialists with recognized expertise in the treatment of cancer of the bone and soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system. Our team, with decades of experience and fellowship-trained surgeons, is dedicated to eliminating your cancer while minimizing the damage to the healthy structures of your body.
MedStar Health patients have access to advanced academic medicine and an NCI affiliated location, and a large network allowing you to see a specialist close to your home or work.
Our experts specialize in tailored-to-you combinations of the latest cancer-fighting techniques, including:
- Chemotherapy for early stage treatment
- The most advanced medical oncology and radiation oncology available
- Innovative surgical treatments (CyberKnife)
- Clinical trials, providing new options to patients who need a more aggressive solution
- Support services including rehabilitation, nurse navigators, nutritionists, psychologists, and more
- Palliative services to help those with complex cases find relief from the symptoms and stress, improving quality of life for patients and families
Diagnosing Orthopedic Cancer
Our physicians gather information from the most advanced methods to develop the most complete and accurate diagnosis possible.
Minimally invasive biopsies can help accurately identify the cancer without going through surgery. Your physician removes tissues or cells from the concerning area to determine whether the tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) and how aggressive it is.
Pathology review allows your musculoskeletal pathologist to learn about the tumor and cancer, including type, stage, and whether the tumor was completely removed on a microscopic level. It also determines whether your doctor needs to surgically remove more tissue around the tumor.
Advanced imaging pinpoints the tumor and possible growth of the cancer, using the most advanced technology.
Orthopedic radiology review by our expert orthopedic surgeons and radiologists, to examine the scans and films, and identify the location and possible growth of the tumor.
Taking into account all of these tests and their results, our physicians can build a treatment plan unique to you.
Surgical Treatments for Orthopedic Cancer
The primary treatment for tumors of the bone and soft tissue is surgery. Our goal is to remove every trace of cancer and to minimize the risk your cancer will return. This means your surgeon will remove both the tumor and the tissue directly surrounding it, allowing a specialized pathologist to determine whether any cancer cells might have been left behind.
Your musculoskeletal system is a complex system of diverse structures and surrounding structures. This means the surgical techniques we use can vary based on the location of your tumor and the condition of surrounding organs, tissue and bone.
Limb-Saving Surgery - There was a time when most musculoskeletal tumors of the limbs resulted in amputation. Today, over 90% of limbs can be spared due to advancements in surgical techniques and in related cancer-fighting therapies. In a limb-sparing surgery, both the tumor and the tissue around it are removed and damage done by the tumor is repaired. The repair can include implants or muscle or tendon transplants. Chemotherapy or radiation often occur following surgery.
Curettage - With this procedure, the surgeon scoops the tumor and any additional concerning tissue out of the bone, leaving a hole in the bone. We often then treat nearby bone tissue with cryotherapy or bone cement (a therapy that uses heat) to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
Cryosurgery - For more aggressive tumors, our surgeons use extremely cold temperatures to destroy tumor cells. Following curettage, the surgeon pours liquid nitrogen or specialized gas to freeze and eliminate any tumor cells remaining within the tumor cavity. The technique is often used to treat benign (aneurysmal bone cysts), aggressive (giant cell tumor of bone) and certain low-grade malignant tumors (low grade chondrosarcomas).
Implants and Reconstruction - Our surgeons often replace portions of the skeleton with an internal prosthesis, or implant, to provide stability and function after removal of the tumor. Similar to joint replacements, these prosthetics are inside the body. We create custom modular implants to ensure they work best for your body. For young patients still growing, we provide expandable implants. Implants help restore function and prevent the need for amputation.
Intra-abdominal Surgery - Sarcomas affecting the soft tissues in the abdominal cavity can affect several organs. Surgical procedures to remove these tumors are very complex. Our surgical oncologists perform a large number of them every year.
Shoulder Girdle Surgery - After the limbs, the shoulder girdle, which includes several major bones in the shoulder area, is the most common site for the development of bone sarcomas. Your surgeon will remove the entire tumor, as well as a small area of healthy cells around the tumor, to make sure the cancer is removed completely. Once the cancer is removed, the surgeon can insert an internal prosthetic to reconstruct the bone and joint.
Amputation - Though limb-saving surgery is always the most desired course of action, sometimes damage to the tumor-affected area is so great that amputation is the best solution for survival and well-being. In an amputation, the surgeon leaves an area of muscle and skin around the bone to fit into an artificial limb. An amputation is followed by a rigorous period of rehabilitation to get you walking or using your prosthesis, relearning regular functions in a new way.