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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


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How Does Treatment Work?

Referral from a primary care physician/orthopedist is made to an orthopedic oncologist at a specialty center. The specialist will review the referral and will possibly recommend further tests including an MRI, CT scan, x-rays and lab work. A pre-operative evaluation of limb function and pre-training will help to decrease rehab time and emotional stress post surgery. A biopsy will be done to determine the type of cancer. After the results are determined a treatment plan will be arranged which may consist of pre or post operative radiation, and/or chemotherapy and limb salvage surgery.

When the bone is removed it is replaced with either a prosthesis, allograft bone, or allograft-prothetic combination. Prostheses used for limb salvage procedures are called megaprostheses.They are metallic devices designed to replace the diseased bones and joints which are removed during surgery. These devices are modular in design in order to accommodate different lengths and needs of the patient. The prosthesis is fixed to the remaining bones with bone cement or the bone grows into the prosthesis. Allograft reconstructions typically involve a plate, screw, or intramedullary rod device and depend upon your bone healing.

Team members for LSS consist of the orthopedic oncologist, medical oncologists, nurses, social workers, physical therapists and occupational therapists. All of these people are involved to help the patient throughout the course of treatment.

Frequent follow-ups are recommended following surgery, since two-thirds of all recurrences will be detected during the first two years following diagnosis. Sarcomas that spread to other parts of the body typically go to the lungs; therefore, the lungs are monitored closely through follow-up. Metastatic disease is treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.

The rehabilitation process is designed to help patients regain functional ability and independence. The American Cancer Society recommends an exercise regimen of at least moderate activity for thirty minutes per day for five or more days per week. Exercise should begin slowly and gradually increase in time and intensity.