More than 75 different types of sarcomas have been identified and studies have shown that treatment of such tumors is best performed in high-volume academic, referral centers with clinicians who are experts in the field and specialize in the care of patients with sarcomas.
At the Emory Sarcoma Center, located at Emory University Hospital Midtown, we have a multidisciplinary team of clinicians that has a specific clinical interest and expertise in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of patients with bone, soft-tissue, and retroperitoneal sarcomas. Our team includes: sarcoma pathologists, surgical oncologists, orthopedic oncologists, thoracic surgeons, sarcoma medical and radiation oncologists, musculoskeletal radiologists, and supportive oncology specialists.
Our sarcoma team meets on a weekly-basis at a multidisciplinary tumor conference to discuss individual cases by reviewing pathology slides, treatment plans, and assessing clinical trial eligibility.
The benefits of our multidisciplinary and highly-experienced sarcoma team include:
- Access to clinicians and surgeons who rank among the top cancer specialists in the world with expertise in all types of sarcoma including unique cases such as sacral chordomas, retroperitoneal sarcomas, and radiation-induced sarcomas.
- Availability of new treatment options within our sarcoma clinical trials program.
- Access to state-of-the-art imaging and radiation technology, including proton therapy for certain cases.
- Access to a nurse navigator to assist you throughout the evaluation and treatment process.
- Access to support groups and education classes for you and your caregivers.
A critical component in diagnosing a sarcoma is having an expert sarcoma pathologists review the biopsy tissue and at Winship Cancer Institute we have world-renown Sarcoma pathologists.
The next step in diagnosing a sarcoma is a thorough physical examination and imaging of the tumor with either an MRI scan for truncal or extremity lesions or high-quality CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis for abdominal and retroperitoneal tumors. Additional imaging of the chest with plain x-rays or CT scan is also performed to complete staging.
Watch the video to learn from Kenneth Cardona, MD, about the various types of sarcoma and the current treatment options available.
If a physical examination or imaging suggests a sarcoma may be present, a biopsy will be performed in order to potentially further determine the type of sarcoma present. A biopsy involves obtaining a sample of tissue from the tumor that is then examined by our expert sarcoma pathologists.
Key factors include tumor size, tumor location, aggressiveness of the tumor and whether or not the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.
One or more of the following types of treatment options can be used:
Surgery: Limb-sparing, function preserving surgery, with or without radiation therapy, is the surgical approach for the majority of patients with an extremity sarcoma. The tumor, along with a margin of normal tissue around it, is removed in its entirety. In the past, amputation was the standard surgical approach, but with limb sparing procedures an amputation is rarely indicated now-a-days. For tumors that are in the abdomen or retroperitoneum, major, complex abdominal operations are often required. The extent of such of abdominal operations varies on the type of sarcoma. Surgery, in certain circumstances, is also used to remove tumors that have spread (metastasized) to organs such as the lung and liver with the goal of potentially improving survival.
Chemotherapy: The use of traditional cytotoxic drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancerous cells is commonly employed in the treatment of various types of bone and soft tissue sarcomas. Chemotherapy can be administered prior to surgery as part of a multimodality treatment approach in conjunction with radiation therapy or it can be administered as sole therapy in patients with advanced tumors. However, due to the rarity and diversity of sarcomas, chemotherapy should be administered by a medical oncologist with expertise and experience in the management of patients with sarcomas. Furthermore, our sarcoma medical oncologists are up-to-date with the array of novel drugs that are being identified and used in the treatment of sarcomas and are actively involved in national and international sarcoma clinical trials.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation plays a key role in the multimodality treatment of many bone and soft tissue sarcomas and is an integral component in the management of patients with soft tissue sarcomas of the extremity and trunk. Radiation is also routinely used in the palliative setting to improve quality of life.
Our radiation oncologists use cutting edge techniques, such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy and proton therapy, that minimize the potential toxicity of radiation to the surrounding normal tissues. Proton therapy is a form of radiation that can deliver treatment precisely to the tumor while reducing or eliminating radiation to nearby normal tissues. The Emory Proton Therapy Center is the only center in the state of Georgia to offer this advanced form of radiation therapy. Proton therapy is often used in the treatment of chordomas and chondrosarcomas, as well as other types of sarcoma in selected cases where it may reduce side effects of treatment.
In addition to delivering the highest quality medical care, we recognize the importance of the psychological and emotional aspects of living with a cancer diagnosis and of dealing with treatment. Our supportive oncology team addresses these issues in a timely manner with additional support from counselors, nurse navigators, dietitians and social service professionals.
We understand that this is a very stressful time. We welcome your questions and requests for help. Learn what to expect on your first visit.
Your Treatment Team
- Physician Diagnosticians
- Nurse Navigators
- Adv Practice
- Support Services
- Clinical Trials
- Dr. Cardona is a board certified surgeon and surgical oncologist who specializes in the management of retroperitoneal sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas. Additionally, he is an expert in the treatment of complex gastrointestinal malignancies (such as stomach, pancreas, and liver cancers).
- Co-Lead Sarcoma Working Group, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
- (404) 686-3203
- Dr. Oskouei is an expert in the treatment of musculoskeletal tumors, performing hundreds of total hip and total knee replacements annually and leading in the use of stem cells to treat arthritis of the hip and knee.
- Director, Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program, Emory University School of Medicine
- (404) 778-7777
- Dr. Read is a medical oncologist who cares for patients with gynecologic malignancies, brain tumors, sarcomas of soft tissue and bone and complicated skin cancers.
- Associate Professor, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine
- (404) 778-1900
- A pioneer in sarcoma pathology, Dr. Weiss was the first to characterize multiple soft tissue pathologic entities. She is a board certified pathologist who specializes in the diagnosis of bone and soft tissue neoplasms.
- Professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine
- (404) 712-5947