Bone & Tissue Tumors

Bone & Tissue Tumors

Orthopedic oncology (also called musculoskeletal tumor surgery) is a sub-specialty of orthopedics that involves the evaluation and treatment of tumors of the musculoskeletal systems. Swedish Orthopedic Institute is one of only a handful in the region that provides musculoskeletal cancer services. The orthopedic oncologists at the Swedish Orthopedic Institute have fellowship training in musculoskeletal tumor surgery as well as extensive experience in this field. For malignant tumors, a team of orthopedic surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, nurses and rehabilitation specialists works together throughout a patient’s treatment to ensure the best possible care. Regular meetings are held at a multidisciplinary "musculoskeletal tumor board" where cases are discussed with the rest of the oncology team and management if planned. These tumors include a wide range of benign and malignant tumors of both bone and soft tissue. Metastatic bone disease, where cancer has spread to the bone from elsewhere in the body, is also treated. Patient age for the various musculoskeletal tumors can range from young children to the elderly.

Management of musculoskeletal tumors varies with the type of tumor. Many benign tumors can simply be monitored and do not require any surgery. Others benefit from a simple excision. Malignant tumors, often known as sarcomas, require a larger surgery and reconstruction and, at times, additional radiation or chemotherapy. For metastatic bone disease, the goal of surgery is to relieve pain and prevent breakage of the bone. Sometimes this can be done with radiation alone and at other times requires a surgery.

Bone tumors

A bone tumor is an abnormal growth of cells within the bone that can be benign or malignant (cancerous). In most cases, a malignant bone tumor occurs when cancer spreads from another part of the body. The most common cancers that spread to the bone are:

  • Breast

  • Lung

  • Prostate

  • Kidney

  • Thyroid

Benign bone tumors may not require treatment, but physicians often want to assess the tumor periodically to check for progression or regression. In some cases, surgery to remove the tumor may be necessary.

Treatment for a malignant tumor depends on the tissue or organ involved. Radiation therapy with chemotherapy or hormone therapy is commonly used. Primary, malignant bone tumors require chemotherapy and surgery, and radiation may be needed after surgery.

Tissue tumors

Soft tissue tumors arise in tissues such as fat, muscles, nerves, tendons and blood or lymph vessels. Malignant soft tissue tumors are called sarcomas. Sarcomas are rare, representing about one percent of all cancer cases.

Surgery, combined with radiation therapy or chemotherapy (or both), is the primary treatment for the removal of soft-tissue sarcomas.


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