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Orthopedic oncology for bone cancer

orthopedic oncology

What is orthopedic oncology?

Orthopedic oncology involves the diagnosis and treatment of malignant disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The Orthopedic Oncology Program at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) provides advanced orthopedic procedures for the following:

  • Primary bone cancers
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Metastatic cancers that spread to the bone (breast, colon, lung, prostate)
  • Orthopedic problems that occur alongside cancer

Experienced care team

If you have a primary or metastatic bone or soft tissue sarcoma, it is important to have an orthopedic oncologist as part of your cancer team. Because of the rarity of primary bone tumors, there are a limited number of orthopedic oncologists in the country.

Our orthopedic oncologists have expertise in diagnosing and treating malignant musculoskeletal diseases. They can provide specialized procedures to remove tumors and reconstruct the bones to help restore full mobility of the limb, and/or to relieve symptoms.

Individualized treatment approach

Our doctors use state-of-the-art diagnostic tests and procedures to determine the type, location and stage of the disease. Then, we’ll work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that works for you.

The following are some orthopedic oncology procedures we provide:

  • Soft tissue excisions/resections
  • Joint replacement, hip replacement
  • Limb salvage surgery
  • Amputation (if necessary)
  • Bone grafting
  • Rodding/rod fixation (i.e., placing metal rods in bones to prevent them from breaking)
  • Implants (e.g., metal implants, prosthesis), transplants
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Palliative surgery (to relieve symptoms)

Bone cancer can cause weakened, brittle bones, which sometimes results in compression fractures of the spinal vertebrae. We can perform minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as kyphoplasty, to rebuild cracked or collapsed vertebrae.

We also provide advanced treatments and procedures for cancers that metastasize to the bone from another area of the body. For example, a common treatment for metastatic breast cancer to the bone is Zometa®. Generally administered through an infusion, this treatment is used to reduce the risk of bone complications, such as fractures.

Your orthopedic oncologist can also address orthopedic problems (e.g., arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.) that may occur alongside cancer and/or its treatment. For instance, if you have breast cancer or multiple myeloma and require a knee or hip replacement for arthritis, we can treat both conditions.

Improving quality of life

Orthopedic cancers, and cancers that spread to the bone, can cause unwanted side effects like pain and loss of mobility, which can slow your recovery from treatment. We want to get you out of pain and up and moving as soon as possible. Throughout your treatment, we’ll provide integrative oncology services to help relieve pain, restore your independence, and improve your overall quality of life.

Orthopedic oncology for bone cancer

Surgery, a common treatment option for bone cancer, can be used to remove the tumor and surrounding area of normal bone and/or to relieve symptoms.

Our Orthopedic Oncology Program provides the following orthopedic surgeries for bone cancer patients:

  • Soft tissue excisions/resections
  • Joint replacement
  • Hip replacement
  • Limb salvage surgery
  • Rodding/rod fixation
  • Bone grafting/synthetic bone substitute (e.g., Kyphoplasty)
  • Implants (e.g., prosthesis), transplants
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Palliative surgery

Dr. Schmidt has expertise in limb-salvage procedures to avoid amputation whenever possible. Once the tumor is removed, he can reconstruct the bones to help restore full mobility of the limb.

The program also addresses any orthopedic problems that occur alongside cancer, such as osteoporosis or arthritis.

Innovations in kyphoplasty

Bone cancer can cause weakened, brittle bones, which sometimes results in compression fractures of the spinal vertebrae. Vertebral compression fractures can cause severe back pain, spinal deformity and loss of height.

Dr. Schmidt can perform minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as kyphoplasty, to rebuild cracked or collapsed vertebrae. During this procedure, a special balloon is gently inflated inside the fractured bone to expand it to its normal height. Then, with image guidance, a cement-like material is injected directly into the fractured bone through a hollow needle.

Dr. Schmidt uses a type of synthetic bone material which, he says, is as strong as bone and doesn’t get hot or injure normal bone tissue when it sets. It also hardens within five minutes after being injected.

Kyphoplasty involves a short surgical and recovery time, and can help to relieve pain, strengthen the vertebra and restore height.

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