Sarcoma

Sarcoma

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Duke’s sarcoma specialists are nationally recognized for their diagnosis and treatment of sarcomas, rare cancers that occur in bones and soft tissues. Our experts offer the latest treatment options, preserve healthy tissue and bone, and perform comprehensive limb-sparing surgeries to avoid the need for amputation. We help you improve your chances for a positive outcome.

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Medical Therapy

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy kills cancer cells or stops them from growing and is used to treat many types of sarcoma. We consider your specific diagnosis, anticipated risks versus benefits and other factors before recommending chemotherapy as part of your personalized treatment plan.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy kills or slows the growth of cancer cells by targeting tumors with high energy radiation beams. It may be recommended before or after surgery to reduce the chances of cancer returning. Your type of sarcoma, its location and size, indicates whether and what type of radiation therapy may be recommended as part of your treatment plan. Several types of radiation can effectively target these rare cancers and spare as much healthy tissue as possible.

Highly Focused Radiation Therapy

Advanced imaging is used to focus radiation beams directly onto your tumor. This type of radiation therapy may include 3-D conformal radiation therapy and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

Intraoperative Radiotherapy

A computer-controlled robot delivers rice grain-sized bits of radioactive material to a tumor site during surgery to reduce damage to normal tissue and organs. Duke is one of only a handful of cancer centers nationwide with this technology.

Brachytherapy

Delivers high doses of radiation to targeted areas from inside your body using a long, thin, flexible catheter. This form of radiation can prevent tumors from recurring after surgical removal.

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Surgery

Wide Local Excision

Removes your tumor and a section of normal tissue around it to make sure we don’t leave any cancer cells behind.

Advanced Bone and Joint Reconstruction

Replaces bones damaged by cancer with a customized artificial joint for the hip, knee, shoulder or elbow.

Vascularized Bone Grafting

Pioneered by Duke surgeons, this procedure replaces a diseased bone with a healthy bone and blood vessels from your own body – typically your fibula. We perform more of these procedures than most hospitals around the world.

Rotationplasty

This limb-sparing surgery removes diseased knee joints but preserves healthy ankle joints. Our surgeons avoid amputation above the knee by re-attaching your ankle and foot to your thigh. Patients who undergo rotationplasty also have access to physical therapists and our team of prosthetists, who can fit you with a custom prosthesis that allows your ankle to function as if it were your new knee joint. You retain a wide range of movement and control. Many patients come to Duke specifically for this procedure.

Amputation

We explore all other treatment options before recommending amputation, which removes all or part of an arm or leg. 

Tests

MRI or CT Scan, X-Ray

An MRI or CT scan produce high-resolution, detailed images which help us pinpoint the location of your tumor. A chest X-ray can help us determine if your cancer has spread to your lungs.

Needle Biopsy

Takes a tissue sample to evaluate for cancer using a small incision. We use ultrasound- or CT scan-guided biopsy to guide us to the right location in your body.

Bone Scan

A radioactive tracer injected into your bloodstream collects in your bones and helps a camera detect areas affected by cancer.

Among the Best Cancer Hospitals in U.S.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital's cancer program is ranked among the nation's best.

Why Choose Duke

Experienced Sarcoma Treatment Center
Receiving your care at a medical center with the level of expertise we offer is crucial because sarcomas are rare cancers, representing only one percent of all adult cancer cases. And, because there are more than 50 types of sarcoma, it can be difficult to identify the type and appropriate treatment.

Experts in Every Type of Sarcoma
There are two main types of sarcoma. Malignant tumors that occur in the bones are called osteosarcomas, bone sarcomas or bone cancers. Malignant tumors that occur in soft tissue — including fat, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, joints and other tissue — have many different names but are generally known as soft tissue sarcomas. We have the expertise to identify the type of sarcoma you are experiencing and can offer you the latest treatments available today for these rare cancers. We give you access to every possibility and minimize your chances of undergoing an amputation.

Convenient Care
You meet with a radiation oncologist, medical oncologist and orthopaedic surgeon, all on the same day. You leave your visit with a thorough understanding of your treatment options, and with a comprehensive treatment plan in place. In addition, our specialists in soft tissue and bone sarcoma meet regularly to discuss your care, and to make sure your treatment plan is the best it can be.

Comprehensive, High-Quality Care
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we offer a level of expertise found only in the top cancer centers across the country. We are also part of the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration, a group of leading sarcoma centers in the U.S. dedicated to improving the care of sarcoma patients through research and clinical trials.

Limb-Sparing Approach
We are known for our expertise in treatments that preserve limbs threatened by cancer. Our surgical team specializes in many alternatives to amputation.

Computer-Navigated Cancer Surgery
Our operating rooms are equipped with intraoperative CT and MRI imaging technology that helps us carefully plan for surgery and precisely remove your tumor. Deeply rooted soft tissue and bone sarcomas can be challenging to remove completely, especially while trying to separate these tumors from important nerves and blood vessels that must remain unharmed. This technology allows our surgeons to identify your cancer and operate under the guidance of high-resolution, 3-D images.

Support for You and Your Family
Our comprehensive support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of cancer treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.  

Clinical Trial Access
You may be eligible to participate in clinical trials for sarcoma, which gives you access to new therapies before they are available elsewhere. One of our ongoing trials is testing a novel technique, developed in part by a Duke researcher. This approach uses fluorescent probes to light up a tumor so surgeons can find and remove your cancer, helping preserve more healthy muscle, bone, nerves and blood vessels than ever before.

Comparative Oncology Program
Our doctors and researchers believe that we may never fully understand rare cancers like sarcoma if we only study humans. That’s why we have a team researching how sarcoma behaves in animals. Our research team includes Dr. William Eward, who is both an orthopaedic oncologist and a small animal veterinarian.