Bone Cancer and Soft-Tissue Sarcomas
Multidisciplinary Care for Tumors of the Bones and Soft Tissues
Sarcomas are tumors that arise in the supportive tissues of the body, such as the bones, muscles, and connective tissue. They are rare, but when they do develop, they need to be treated quickly and sometimes aggressively to reduce the chance of cancer spread and recurrence. At NewYork-Presbyterian, our pediatric sarcoma teams include experts who aim not only to control the growth of the cancer but to maintain your child's quality of life. We understand your concerns and do everything possible to restore your child's health so they can do the kinds of things they enjoy.
Types of sarcomas
Our pediatric sarcoma specialists treat every type of the disease, including:
- Osteosarcoma, which most often arises in the bones of the knee
- Ewing sarcoma, which may affect the bones, or soft tissues in the chest or pelvis
- Rhabdomyosarcoma, which develops in the muscles
- Desmoplastic small round cell tumors (DSCRT), a rare sarcoma that develops in the pelvis or abdomen
- Other rare pediatric sarcomas such as alveolar soft part sarcomas, desmoid tumors, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, infantile fibrosarcomas, synovial sarcomas, leiomyosarcomas, and liposarcomas
Signs & symptoms of sarcoma in children and teens
Sarcomas are cancers that can arise anywhere there is bone, muscle, or connective tissue. They account for about 10%-15% of all newly diagnosed cancers in children under the age of 20 in the United States. Although rhabdomyosarcoma (a tumor arising from muscle), Ewing sarcoma (a tumor that typically arises from the bone), and osteosarcoma (a tumor that arises from bone) are the most common sarcomas diagnosed in children and young adults, other rarer forms of sarcomas can also be seen. Patients with certain genetic disorders such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome can be predisposed to developing these types of cancers. However, in most of our patients, there are no predisposing factors.
Symptoms of a sarcoma will vary depending on where it is developing. These tumors typically cause pain and sometimes swelling in the area where they are growing. These kinds of pain are not uncommon and can have different causes, including conditions that are not serious. But if your child has pain that isn't going away or is getting worse, it's time to see a doctor.
We will perform several tests to find out what is causing your child's pain. All of our tests are done with your child's comfort in mind. Your child may have:
- Physical exam
- Imaging exams, such as X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, and MRI scans
- Removal (biopsy) of tumor tissue to examine it for cancer cells
- Genetic testing of tumor tissue to look for certain "markers" that confirm the diagnosis of tumors such as Ewing sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and DSCRT
Our approach to care
Sarcoma care in children and adolescents requires a team approach, bringing together all of the specialists needed to provide the latest research-based care. Your child's team may include a pediatric oncologist, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, pediatric cancer surgeon, oncology nurses, and nurse practitioners/physician assistants. They work with radiologists, pathologists, social workers, nutritionists, physical therapists, child life specialists, integrative health professionals, and others to treat all parts of your child — body, mind, and spirit. We understand the toll that a pediatric sarcoma and its treatment take on a child and family, and we provide comprehensive treatment with the goal of improving and saving your child's life and well-being.
Treatment of pediatric bone and soft-tissue sarcomas
We evaluate every child's tumor for genetic features, which may help us understand how the tumor will grow and what treatments it is most likely to respond to. The testing helps us select the most effective therapies for your child's tumor. Some tumors may require simpler treatment, while others need more intense therapy.
Pediatric bone sarcoma treatment. Some children with low-grade bone sarcomas may only need surgery to remove the tumor. Those with high-grade bone sarcomas (such as osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma)receive chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, which is then removed during an operation, and sometimes additional chemotherapy afterward. We perform limb-sparing surgery whenever we can, avoiding the removal of the affected limb. We only perform amputation when all other treatment options have not been successful. The pediatric sarcoma team at NewYork-Presbyterian has pediatric orthopedic surgeons who work closely with our pediatric cancer specialists to provide exceptional care.
Soft-tissue sarcoma treatment. Children with pediatric soft-tissue sarcomas (such as rhabdomyosarcoma) are treated with a combination of chemotherapy (to shrink the tumor), surgery (to remove the tumor) and/or radiation therapy (to decrease the risk of the cancer returning). Your doctor will help tailor a treatment regimen that is specific to your child’s cancer.
Why choose us
Sarcomas in people of all ages are very complex and challenging to treat. At NewYork-Presbyterian, you can trust your child's care to experts with experience and understanding of these tumors and how they behave. In addition to standard therapies, your child may have opportunities to participate in clinical trials of innovative treatments, conducted by Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. For patients whose cancers cannot be adequately controlled using the usual approaches, clinical trials of new treatment regimens may offer hope. Call us to make an appointment for a consultation and find out what options we can offer your child.