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Surgery for bone cancer

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Video: Surgical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Surgery for bone cancer

There are several different types of surgeries that may be performed, depending on the location and extent of the bone cancer.

  • Limb-salvage surgery: With this technique, surgeons remove the bone cancer and some surrounding healthy tissue, but leave enough bone to save the arm or leg. The space where the bone has been removed is then filled with a bone graft or an endoprosthesis (internal prosthesis). This type of bone cancer surgery can be used to save the limb in approximately 90 percent of cases. Participating in a rehabilitation program is very important in order to maintain the use of the arm or leg after surgery.
  • Amputation: This surgery removes all or part of the leg or arm in which the tumor is located. After surgery, the patient is fitted for an artificial prosthesis. While amputation used to be the main way to treat bone cancers, advances in surgical techniques have increased the ability to save the affected limb, and now this type of bone cancer surgery is usually reserved for cases when the essential nerves, arteries or muscles have been affected by the tumor and must be removed.
  • Surgery for bone cancers in other areas: When bone cancer occurs in areas other than an arm or leg, surgeons may use a variety of techniques to remove the tumor and fill in the space. Curettage, a procedure in which the surgeon scrapes out the cancer cells but does not remove an entire section of bone may be used for tumors in some locations, such as the skull or spine. After this type of surgery for bone cancer, liquid nitrogen may be used to kill any remaining tumor cells. Bone grafts or bone cement may be used to fill the hole in the bone.
  • Reconstructive surgery: Surgeons use advanced techniques to reshape or rebuild the part of the body changed by previous surgery.
  • Surgery for metastases: Surgery may sometimes be used to remove the metastases if the bone cancer has spread to the lungs or other organs.
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