Vanderbilt Orthopaedics

Learn More About Oncology


First Visit

On your first visit, you'll meet with an orthopaedic surgeon and other providers. They will evaluate you and create a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Feel free to bring a family member or friend to your visit.

Please bring with you:

  • A list of current medications
  • Copies of X-rays
  • MRI studies
  • Bone scans
  • CT scans
  • EMG reports
  • Clinical records and any other relevant information

Valet parking is on the 1st level of the East Garage. You can self-park if you prefer.


Diagnosis

Your doctor may use many different ways to diagnose a bone or soft tissue tumor:

  • Studying personal and family medical history
  • Complete physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Radiology studies
  • X-rays
  • CT (or CAT) scan, MRI or PET scan

The surgeon may do a needle (closed) biopsy or an open biopsy. During a needle biopsy, a needle punctures the skin and enters the tumor. A small piece of tissue is removed and analyzed. In an open biopsy, the surgeon cuts into the tumor and removes a sample. A pathologist — a doctor who identifies disease with a microscope  — examines the tissue to see if cancer is present.


Cancer Staging

If cancer is found, your doctor will order more tests to see if it has spread to other parts of your body. This testing is called staging. The higher the stage, the more advanced the cancer.

Stage I: The cancer cells look very much like normal cells. The cancer is small (less than 2 inches in size). It has not spread to other parts of the body.

Stage II: The cancer cells look somewhat different from normal cells. The cancer may be more than 2 inches, but it has not spread to other parts of the body.

Stage III: The cancer cells look very different from normal cells. The cancer can be less than or more than 2 inches, and it may have spread to lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that produce and store tumor- and infection-fighting cells.

Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, skeleton or lymph nodes.


Limb Sparing Surgery

Limb sparing surgery is a procedure that removes cancer in bone or soft tissue without amputation. Sparing the limb creates a defect, so LSS has two parts:

  • Removing the cancer
  • Fixing the defect

If LSS is done well, it is just as effective as amputation in getting rid of the cancer. BUT compared to amputation, LSS is more likely to involve infection, fracture and reoperation. Often the limb never returns to 100%, even though it may seem normal.

Limb Sparing Surgery (LSS) Patient Guide - Adobe PDF File


Follow-up Care

Regular follow-up is very important. Your doctor will track your care for several years. It is important to be sure that cancer has not come back, and if it has, to treat it quickly. Checkups may include:

  • Physical exam
  • X-rays
  • Scans
  • Blood and other laboratory tests

Cancer treatment may cause side effects many years later. Patients should continue checkups with their cancer doctor and report any problem right away.

Patients who have had part or all of a limb removed will need physical therapy. This process can often take many months.

Treating Local Recurrence of Sarcoma: Local recurrence of sarcoma can be scary, but doctors can often treat this condition with success.

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