Bone Cancer

To best take care of bone cancers, you need a team of clinicians – such as the one we have assembled here at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute – with expertise in several disciplines.

Cancer in the bones, soft tissue and muscles of the skeletal system is complex and rare, with only 20,000 cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Because of its location, this type of cancer can also affect the way you can move your body and live your life.

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Our Team

If You Have Bone Cancer

When you are referred to us for care – either for a sarcoma, which is a cancer that arises in the bone or the muscle and soft tissue surrounding the bone, or for cancer that has metastasized or attached itself to the bone after starting elsewhere in your body (such as the prostate or lung) – you will work with a team of orthopedic oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists. Together, they will evaluate and diagnose your cancer, then discuss plans for treatment with you and your family.

What Are Sarcomas?

Sarcomas are complex cancers involving bone (bone sarcoma) or the surrounding soft tissue (soft tissue sarcoma) such as muscles, tendons, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves and tissue around the joints. In adults, soft tissue sarcomas can form anywhere in the body but are most common in the head, neck, arms, legs, torso and abdomen.

Because of their complexity, sarcomas often require coordinated treatment that combines surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The goal is to improve your outcomes and reduce the chance that the cancer will come back. A specialized team of pathologists, radiologists and medical oncologists with advanced training in the latest reconstructive techniques and therapies for soft tissue sarcomas and bone malignancies work with you to devise and carry out the most effective care plan.

Bone Sarcoma: Tumors of the bone can be caused by infection, stress fracture or other conditions that cause cells to divide uncontrollably. Tumor cells can replace healthy tissue and even weaken the bone.

In many people, there are never any symptoms indicating they have a bone sarcoma, they simply notice a painless lump.

In others, bone sarcoma can cause these symptoms:

  • Dull pain in the area of the tumor that may or may not worsen with activity. The pain may wake a patient up at night.
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

Diagnosis generally includes a physical exam, X-rays and lab tests. You may also be asked to have a biopsy o sarcomas:

  • Osteosarcoma: A common form of bone sarcoma affecting as many as 3 million people each year. Most tumors are found around the knee and in teenagers. They can also be found in the hip and shoulder.
  • Ewing’s sarcoma: Occurs mostly in children and teenagers. It includes several types of bone tumors typically found in the hip, upper arm, ribs or legs.
  • Chondrosarcoma: Occurs in the hip, pelvis or shoulder, most commonly in people age 40 to 70.

Treating Bone Cancer

Treatment depends on the malignancy of the tumor. If it is benign, we generally monitor it or treat it with medication. If it is malignant, the orthopedic oncologist on your team will lead the treatment planning with a goal of curing the cancer while preserving function in your body.

Treatment options include:

  • Limb preservation surgery: The cancerous part of the bone is removed but the muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels are kept in place. An implant/prosthesis or bone transplant is put in the bone’s place.
  • Amputation: Removal of all or part of the limb affected by the cancer. This is usually done when the tumor is large or involves nearby blood vessels and nerves.
  • Radiation therapy: Kills cancer cells and shrinks the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy: Kills tumor cells spread to the bloodstream. It’s used if your medical team believes the tumors will spread.

What Are Soft Tissue Sarcomas?

Although there is still much to be learned about these types of tumors, research has linked them to various conditions and activities, including:

  • Exposure to phenoxyacetic acid in herbicides, chlorophenols in wood preservatives and vinyl chloride in the making of some types of plastic.
  • AIDS
  • Genetic alterations passed down in families
  • Inherited diseases such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome and von Recklinghausen’s disease

When soft tissue sarcomas first form, they generally cause no pain, just emerge as a lump or swollen area. As they grow and press against nerves and muscles, however, pain or soreness might result.

Surgical biopsy is the only reliable way to determine if a soft tissue tumor is benign, meaning harmless, or malignant/cancerous. Biopsies involve using a special needle inserted through a surgical incision near the tumor to remove a tissue sample for examination.

The most common treatment for soft tissue sarcomas is surgery to remove it. We also use radiation therapy to shrink tumors before surgery or kill any cancer cells that remain after surgery. Sometimes, we combine it with chemotherapy to shrink the tumors and reduce pain.

Soft Tissue Sarcomas We Treat

We treat these soft tissue sarcomas:

  • Alveolar soft part sarcoma
  • Angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Atypical lipmataous tumor
  • Bone cancer
  • Clear cell sarcoma
  • Dendritic cell sarcoma
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
  • Desmoid tumor
  • Desmoplastic small cell tumor
  • Desmoplastic small round cell tumors
  • Ectomesenchymoma
  • Endometrial sarcoma
  • Epithelioid sarcoma
  • Extrarenal rhabdoid tumor
  • Extraskeletal mesenchymal chondrosarcoma
  • Extraskeletal myxoid chnodrosarcoma
  • Extraskeletal osteosarcoma
  • Fibromyxoid sarcoma
  • Fibrous histiocytoma of bone
  • Fibrosarcoma
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
  • Granulation cell sarcoma
  • Hemangioendothelioma
  • Hemangiopericytoma
  • Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor
  • Intimal sarcoma
  • Kaposi sarcoma
  • Leiomyosarcoma
  • Lipoma
  • Liposarcoma
  • Liposarcoma
  • Lymphoangiosarcoma
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
  • Malignant glomus tumor
  • Malignant granular cell tumor
  • Malignant melanotic schwannoma
  • Malignant mesenchymoma
  • Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor
  • Malignant primitive neuroectodermal tumor
  • Malignant schwannoma
  • Malignant tenosynovial giant cell tumor
  • Myoepithelioma/mixed tumor of soft tissue
  • Myofibroblastic sarcoma
  • Myxofibrosarcoma
  • Myxoinflammatory fibroblastic sarcoma
  • Neurofibrosarcoma
  • Osteoganic sarcoma
  • PEComa
  • Radiation associated sarcomas
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Solitary fibrous tumor
  • Spindle cell sarcoma
  • Synovial sarcoma
  • Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma
  • Undifferentiated sarcoma
  • Unclassified sarcoma
  • Uterine sarcoma
A member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, we provide innovative care close to home.

We offer the latest treatments through our ongoing membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Alliance, which gives you access to the latest standards of care and clinical trials.

The MSK Alliance

Support at the Cancer Institute

The Cancer Institute offers whatever you and your family need on your journey, whether it’s access to an oncology social worker, a nurse navigator to coordinate your care or the support of our Patient and Family Resource Center.

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute