At Seattle Children's, we have a clinic to provide care for children who have bone tumors and sarcoma.
The clinic brings together healthcare providers from many fields so we can address many aspects of our patients' health at once.
They include a pediatric cancer doctor (oncologist), a bone (orthopedic) surgeon, nurse practitioners, social workers, dietitians and physical therapists.
These people work together to plan and provide all aspects of your child's care.
The program has three main aspects:
- Providing care to our patients at our weekly Bone Tumor and Sarcoma Clinic
- Reviewing our patients' cases during our weekly team meetings
- Studying bone tumors and sarcoma to find new and better treatment options
Our weekly Bone Tumor and Sarcoma Clinic provides a time when team members meet to see patients. They check your child's health and progress, give care, make any needed treatment changes and suggest ways to meet any other health needs your child has.
At most clinic visits, your child will not see all members of the team - only those they need to see or that you ask to see that week. For example, only patients who are planning for surgery or recovering from surgery see our orthopedic surgeon.
A team approach
Once a week, the team meets so we can discuss each patient's case as a group.
We review a patient's health and treatment background (called the clinical history); look at any test results, such as scans and pathology reports; discuss treatment options; and decide what treatment to recommend.
This way all our specialists can provide input on each patient and team members can discuss each patient's case in detail.
The latest treatments
The incredible improvements in cancer treatments during the past 30 years have all come from research. Research holds the key to developing even better, more effective and safer treatment options for children.
Physicians and researchers at Children's are working to improve cancer treatments and outcomes. Many of our patients, with different forms of cancer and tumors, take part in research studies.
One goal of our Bone Tumor and Sarcoma Clinic is to offer a research study to suit each of our patients. This way our patients have access to the latest options under investigation.
Not only are we able to offer local and national studies to our patients, but also in many cases our doctors are leading these studies. They work on research issues such as new treatments for Ewing sarcoma that has spread and new ways to detect how sarcomas respond to treatment.
Your child's doctor can give you details about any study that might be a match for your child and talk with you about how to decide whether to take part.
What's special about the Bone Tumor and Sarcoma Clinic at Children's?
Our team approach and our lead role in research studies give our young patients an important advantage.
Treating a complex disease
Treatment for bone tumors and sarcomas is complex and requires care from healthcare providers in several fields.
For some other diseases, doctors generally use one main treatment. But almost all cases of sarcoma require a mix of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
How doctors choose to use these treatments together influences how successful the treatment is.
Because bone tumors and sarcomas can occur in many places in the body, treatment for them is very different from one patient to another. For example, osteosarcoma can occur in any bone in a child's body. Soft-tissue sarcomas can affect any type of soft tissue.
Age is an important issue, too. When adults get bone tumors or sarcomas, their doctors don't need to worry about growth. But when children need treatment for these tumors or cancers, their doctors must consider how treatment may affect their bodies as they keep growing.
For all these reasons, a team approach is the best way to provide care. Each team member has special expertise. By talking among themselves often about each patient's care, they can figure out the best treatment plan for that child.
Special research options
Many patients also benefit from the research studies we offer. Only a small number of hospitals have access to some of the studies we do.
For example, we are part of the Children's Oncology Group (COG) and COG's Phase I Consortium. COG is an international organization of childhood cancer specialists who conduct studies on many forms of childhood cancer.
The 21 institutions that belong to the Phase I group can offer patients new medicines that are just being developed and tested. For some patients, these medicines offer the best hope.
Several of our doctors run studies on a national level:
- Dr. Ernest (Chappie) U. Conrad, an orthopedic surgeon, is a member of the Bone Tumor Committee of COG, and a member of COG's Ewing sarcoma trial.
- Dr. Douglas S. Hawkins, a hematologist/oncologist, is a member of the Bone Tumor Committee of COG and is chair of the Soft Tissue Sarcoma Committee. He chairs a study of intermediate-risk rhabdomyosarcoma and the EuroEWING study. He is also vice chair of studies on relapsed rhabdomyosarcoma and relapsed osteosarcoma.
At Children's, we are able to conduct studies that most hospitals around the country cannot do, thanks to special equipment we have in Seattle and to the large number of patients we see.
For example, our doctors study the use of PET scan technology to assess how well tumors are responding to treatment. This gives them important information about what steps to take next in a child's treatment plan.
Who needs the Bone Tumor and Sarcoma Clinic?
Our patients are children who have bone tumors or sarcoma. We work with children at all stages of illness, from the time their disease is diagnosed through all phases of treatment and follow-up care.
This includes patients who may have a tumor return after treatment and those whose treatment and tumor affect their daily function or lifestyle.