Duke Cancer Institute Notes
Published: Feb. 26, 2008
Updated: Mar. 29, 2010
Duke's sarcoma clinic, which opened in 2008, allows patients to receive a multidisciplinary team approach to their care.
The clinic allows patients to make one visit to Duke to see Brian Brigman, MD, PhD, or Shalini Ramasunder, MD, orthopaedic surgeons; Rich Riedel, MD, a medical oncologist; and radiation oncologists Nicole Larrier, MD, or David Kirsch, MD, PhD. The physicians meet with a patient during his or her initial appointment, and then work together to create the most effective treatment plan for the patient.
“Since most sarcoma patients require a combination of treatments to treat their disease most effectively, this multidisciplinary approach is an efficient way for patients to talk to multiple doctors during one visit,” says Brigman.
Sarcoma is a term that describes approximately 50 different types of soft tissue
cancer and seven types of bone cancer. Each year, 10,000 patients are diagnosed with all types of sarcomas, compared to 178,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 218,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Sarcoma is also one of the more common cancers in children; about 20 percent of the sarcoma patients treated at Duke are children.
According to Brigman, many community physicians are not familiar with sarcoma. Many hospitals do not treat sarcoma patients, and of those that do, even fewer offer a multidisciplinary approach to care.
Although Duke physicians have been treating sarcoma patients for many years, Riedel is the first medical oncologist at Duke devoted exclusively to sarcoma. He joined the Duke faculty in July 2007 as the recipient of the Maria Garcia-Estrada Career Development Award in Sarcoma. Garcia-Estrada was a former Duke golfer who was diagnosed with sarcoma in 2005, two years after graduating, and died seven months later.
Jim Heinz, her mentor at Marquette Partners, helped to raise $500,000 to recruit a faculty member to Duke to study sarcoma. “This generous funding will allow for the further development of our sarcoma research efforts as we work to improve therapeutic options for our patients,” says Riedel.