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Sarcoma

Sarcoma doctor
UK Markey Cancer Center orthopaedic oncologist Patrick O'Donnell, MD.

In the UK Markey Cancer Center’s Multidisciplinary Clinic, sarcoma patients are provided care customized to fit their needs. Our clinic offers expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of sarcomas found in a patient. In August 2017, Markey was designated as one of the nation’s Top 50 Cancer Centers by U.S. News & World Report.

Our Team Approach

The UK Markey Cancer Center is proud to be one of only two programs treating sarcomas in the state. The Sarcoma Oncology team treats both pediatric and adult patients suffering from sarcomas along with tumor-like conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system.

In addition to clinical care, this unique team of physicians and researchers is currently pursuing research in cancer immunotherapy, advanced tumor imaging, biomedical engineering of bone-like substances and clinical trials – all dedicated toward improved patient-centered care.

Sarcoma Survival Rates

The overall five year survival rate for sarcoma patients is about 50 percent, according to the statistics from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials help keep our cancer care on the leading edge by allowing researchers to apply cancer knowledge as it develops to give you the best chance of survival.

At Markey, our specialists place a high value on all areas of sarcoma treatment, from patient care designed for the unique patient to developing treatments of the future.

Request an appointment online or call 859-257-4488 or 1-866-340-4488 (toll free).

  • Locations

    Clinics

    Multidisciplinary Clinic

    Whitney Hendrickson Building

    UK Markey Cancer Center

    Whitney-Hendrickson Building
    First Floor
    800 Rose St.
    Lexington KY 40508

    A parking lot for Markey Cancer Center patients is located near the Whitney-Hendrickson Building, accessible via Hospital Drive

  • About Your First Visit

    • For your first visit, you will be directed to the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care Center on the second floor of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building. Directions to the Whitney-Hendrickson Building.
    • You can register at the front desk, where a receptionist will help guide you through your appointment.
    • Free parking is available to patients in the Whitney-Hendrickson parking lot.
    • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
    • Review the patient handbook to learn about your stay and everything Markey offers for patients and families.
      • UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.  
    • About Ewing Sarcoma

       
    • About Osteosarcoma

       
    • About Chondrosarcoma

      Chondrosarcoma is a rare type of sarcoma that develops in the bones and soft tissues of the body. Most cases of chondrosarcoma begin in the bones, while a smaller number develop in the soft tissues away from the bones. This sarcoma is most often found to affect middle-aged and older adults.

      Key Points:

      • Chondrosarcoma is a type of tumor that forms in the bones or soft tissue.
      • Signs and symptoms of chondrosarcoma include redness and swelling at the site of the tumor, as well as limping or decreased use of the affected limb.
      • Diagnosis of chondrosarcoma can come from a number of tests such as x-rays, MRI, and CT scans, as well as biopsy. Read more on these tests below.

      Chondrosarcoma Diagnosis

      To properly diagnose chondrosarcoma, your doctor may have you take one or more of the following tests:

      • Imaging Test. An X-ray image is recommended to examine a lump in question, and may be followed by an X-ray of your chest to check if the chondrosarcoma has spread to your lungs. These tests may reveal abnormalities that your healthcare providers are searching for.
      • Computer Tomography (CT) Scan. CT scans are X-ray images most useful for detecting if a chondrosarcoma has formed in the chest, abdomen, or the retroperitoneum.
      • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan. An MRI scan uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of X-rays to take pictures of the body. A computer translates the patterns into a very detailed image of parts of the body in question. MRI scans take longer than CT scans – usually around an hour.
      • Biospy Tissue Sample. A biopsy removes tissue or cells to be checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Results from a biopsy help determine if abnormal cells are cancer. Your doctor may perform this procedure in a variety of ways including fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy and core needle biopsy. Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more.

      Treatment

      Once chondrosarcoma has been diagnosed, you have options for treatment including:

      • Surgery. This is the most common treatment for chondrosarcoma. If the chondrosarcoma is located in a limb, a procedure will be done to attempt removing the sarcoma without the limb. In some cases, amputation may be necessary.
      • Radiation Therapy. It is common for patients to use radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells following a surgery.
      • Chemotherapy. This treatment is less common for treating chondrosarcoma, but it may be used if the bone cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

      Prognosis Factors

      The factors that affect prognosis, or chance of recovery, are different before and after treatment.

      Before treatment, prognosis can depend on factors such as:

      • Whether tumor has spread to lymph nodes.
      • Where in the body the tumor started.
      • Whether the tumor formed in the bone or in soft tissue.
      • How large the tumor is when diagnosed.

      After treatment, prognosis can depend on factors such as:

      • Whether the tumor was completely removed by surgery.
      • Whether the tumor responds to radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
    • Sarcoma Prevention

      You can lower your risk of cancer by committing to practices that build a healthy lifestyle. These recommendations can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health.

      Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.

      Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.

      Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of your alcohol consumption. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal, and oropharyngeal cancer.

      It is always beneficial to be proactive in understanding your health. Make plans to be regularly screened for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer. Learn more about our Cancer Screening Program and events. 

    • Diagnosis

      Bone cancer rarely begins in the bone. A tumor that does originate in the bone is referred to as a sarcoma. More commonly, bone cancer forms when cancer from another part of the body metastasizes to the bone.

      If you have a strong family history of sarcomas, you may consider speaking with your healthcare provider about their recommendations for genetic testing. Families with a history of certain inherited conditions have an increased risk of developing soft-tissue sarcomas.

      You should expect to be asked questions about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors, and family history of disease. Your doctor will discuss the specifics of your condition during your meeting. Understanding your background will help your provider make a diagnosis.

      Your doctor may have you take one or more of the following tests:

      • Imaging Test. An X-ray image is recommended to examine a lump in question, and may be followed by an X-ray of your chest to check if the sarcoma has spread to your lungs. These tests may reveal abnormalities that your healthcare providers are searching for.
      • Computer Tomography (CT) Scan. CT scans are X-ray images most useful for detecting if a sarcoma has formed in the chest, abdomen, or the retroperitoneum.
      • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan. An MRI scan uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of X-rays to take pictures of the body. A computer translates the patterns into a very detailed image of parts of the body in question. MRI scans take longer than CT scans – usually around an hour.
      • Biospy Tissue Sample. A biopsy removes tissue or cells to be checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Results from a biopsy help determine if abnormal cells are cancer. Your doctor may perform this procedure in a variety of ways including fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy and core needle biopsy. Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more.

      Getting your test results

      Patients will be called within five days after biopsy by a nurse navigator. Further management will be recommended at that time.

    • Surgery

      surgery

      Depending on the stage of the sarcoma, surgery may be recommended.

      The main goal of this procedure is to completely remove the tumor, as even a few cancer cells left behind can grow and multiply to create a new tumor. To be sure that all cancer cells are gone, surgeons typically perform a wide-excision, a procedure to remove the tumor plus some healthy surrounding tissue. A wide-excision with no cancer detected on the remaining edges of tissues, also known as a clean margin, minimizes the risk that the cancer will return.

      Some sarcomas are best treated by removing the limb (amputation), but that is rarely the case. Most sarcomas can be treated without amputation, followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

    • Chemotherapy

      Depending on the stage of sarcoma, chemotherapy may be given as an addition to surgery.

      Chemotherapy is one of the longest used and most common treatments for cancer. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow and reproduce. A combination of chemotherapy medicines is typically used to fight a sarcoma.

      While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating sarcomas, the medicines reach all parts of the body, not just the cancer cells. There can be many side effects during treatment, and being prepared for these side effects can help you and your caregivers manage them effectively.

      How is chemotherapy given?

      Chemotherapy can be given in various ways, such as:

      • A pill to swallow.
      • An injection (shot) into the muscle or fat tissue.
      • Directly into the bloodstream, or intravenously (also called IV).
      • Topically (applied to the skin).
      • Directly into a body cavity.

      Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles in order to allow healthy cells the time to recover. Treatment may be given daily, weekly, every few weeks, or monthly, depending on your situation. 

      Also, this treatment typically given in an outpatient setting. This includes a hospital, clinic, or healthcare provider's office. 

      Patients are encouraged to take along something that is comforting to occupy their time during treatment. Since it is hard to predict how a patient will feel after treatment, it is important that the patient has arrangements to have someone drive them to and from their appointment.

    • Radiation Therapy

      Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses high-energy X-rays. A machine directs the rays of energy to the area of cancer, with a goal to kill or shrink cancer cells.

      When might radiation therapy be used for a sarcoma?

      Most often, bone patients will not receive radiation therapy as a major part of their treatment. Most sarcomas are not easily affected by radiation, and high doses are needed to see results. Typically, radiation is used when a tumor cannot be completely removed by surgery.

      Types of Radiation Therapy

      • External radiation. This is also known as external beam therapy (EBRT), the most common treatment for sarcoma. This treatment sends high levels of radiation directly to cancer cells. Since radiation is used to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors, special shields may be used to protect the tissue surrounding the treated area.
      • Brachytherapy. This treatment places small pellets of radioactive material near the sarcoma. For small-tissue sarcoma, these pellets are placed during surgery using thin tubes, also known as catheters, and release radiation to fight the sarcoma.  Brachytherapy may be the only form of radiation therapy available to be partnered with external beam radiation.
    • Questions to Ask Your Doctor

      questions

      Your healthcare team will talk with you the surgery options that are best for you. You may want to bring a family member or close friend with you to appointments. Consider asking each of the following questions:

      • Where is the sarcoma located?
      • Has it spread beyond where it started?
      • What’s the sarcoma’s stage, and what does that mean?
      • What type of treatment do you recommend and why?
      • What type of side-effects come along with this treatment?
      • Should I consider taking part in a clinical trial?
      • If I need surgery, where will the incision be?
      • If I need surgery, how much tissue will be removed?
      • Will I need treatment after surgery, like radiation or chemotherapy?
      • What type of follow-up care will I need?
      • When can I go back to my normal activities?
    • Surveillance

      When their initial treatment is completed, patients in the Multidisciplinary Clinic are referred to Markey's Surveillance clinic. The surveillance clinic is designed to connect a patient's medical history with their future quality of life as a cancer survivor.

      A standard, initial meeting helps patients identify important aspects of their continuing health care, including long-term or late effects of treatment, diet, smoking cessation, and enlisting the help of Markey's American Cancer Society Patient Navigators and financial counselors. This first meeting is usually broken up to include 30 minutes with the program leader, and another 15 to 30 minutes with dietitians and the patient navigator.

      Patients also receive a personalized care plan, in accordance with national best practices for ongoing surveillance care and are referred to a primary care provider if they don't already have one.

      Expressions of Courage

      Expressions of Courage is an event designed to showcase the experiences and creativity of Markey patients who have battled cancer, timed to coincide with other nationwide celebrations in June for Cancer Survivorship Month. Along with celebrating, the event provides opportunities to connect with members of the Healthy Living Panel to further enhance their recovery process.

      Learn more about Expressions of Courage events.

    • Support Services

      The UK Markey Cancer Center is known for providing state-of-the-art care for cancer patients, incorporating the latest advances in surgery, chemotherapy and radiation medicine.

      However, cancer patients have needs that even these treatments cannot reach. They may have pain from their disease or secondary to treatment. They often experience anxiety or depression. They may undergo a spiritual crisis. Some are overwhelmed by decisions they have to make concerning their care. Many worry about family members who rely upon them. Palliative care is a special branch of medicine dedicated to meeting these patient needs.

      Palliative care and integrative medicine at Markey Cancer Center currently includes:

      • Jin Shin Jyutsu.
      • Nutrition information and planning.
      • Psych-Oncology services.
      • A variety of support groups and local resources.
      • Palliative care resources at UK HealthCare.
      • Art therapy.

      To learn more about the support services available at the UK Markey Cancer Center, you can visit Markey's Support Services section. For specific support information, consider the following pages.

      Integrative Medicine & Health

      The UK Integrative Medicine and Health program uses traditional medical therapies and practices, while also recognizing the interaction between the patient’s mind, body and spirit.

      Learn more about UK's Integrative Medicine & Health program.

      Nutritional Counseling

      Good nutrition is the best way to prevent weight loss and increase quality of life during cancer treatment.

      Learn more about nutrition counseling resources.

      Palliative Care

      Markey patients benefit from access to the UK HealthCare Palliative Care Service, which works works with the Palliative Care Center of the Bluegrass to provide comfort to patients who are experiencing a life-limiting illness such as cancer.

      Learn more about the UK HealthCare Palliative Care Service.

      Oncology Social Work

      The Markey Psych-Oncology staff can offer emotional support and counseling during treatment and can help address various types of issues that patients experience during treatment.

      Learn more about Oncology Social Work.