Explore This Treatment

About the Program

The Sarcoma Surgery Program in the Division of Gastrointestinal & Oncologic Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital offers expert care within a multidisciplinary Mass General Cancer Center team. Soft tissue sarcomas are uncommon cancers, and as such, significant expertise is required for their optimal treatment. Sarcomas are cancers that arise from the body's connective tissues, such as muscle, fat and nerves. There are hundreds of different types of sarcoma and each requires a specific treatment approach.

The Connective Tissue Oncology Clinic (CTOC) at the Mass General Cancer Center houses one of the few medical teams in the world devoted to sarcomas. We are a high-volume clinic, granting us a level of experience with these tumors that will make a difference in your outcome.

Collaborative Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment

During your first appointment, your multidisciplinary care team, which includes a surgeon, will review your medical history with you and schedule any tests needed to help with diagnosis. The proper diagnosis of a soft-tissue sarcoma can be quite challenging, but an accurate diagnosis is essential to successful treatment. It is critical to have a proper pre-treatment biopsy, which is reviewed by an expert soft tissue pathologist. Our pathologists are dedicated to sarcoma and they use advanced testing to pinpoint the type of sarcoma you have.

Once a diagnosis of sarcoma is confirmed, we utilize a team approach that brings together specialists from many areas, including surgical oncology, medical oncology and radiation oncology. We offer everything you need for diagnosis and treatment in one location.

The Mass General Difference

Having your sarcoma surgery at Mass General gives you access to a breadth of excellent surgeons, in all surgical specialties, who are skilled in treating patients with complex medical diagnoses. Plastic surgeons manage large tissue defects; thoracic surgeons remove lung metastases from sarcomas; and orthopedic surgeons operate on sarcomas close to or involving bone.

Mass General is consistently recognized among the best hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Our ranking is based on our quality of care, patient safety and reputation in more than a dozen different clinical specialties. Our commitment to excellence means that we work to ensure that you receive the best care at all points during your visit.

Minimally Invasive and Advanced Surgical Techniques

When appropriate, surgical oncologists at Mass General use minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as laparoscopic abdominal surgery, to confirm the diagnosis and/or to remove certain sarcomas, such as gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). Minimally invasive surgery offers the advantages of less postoperative pain, a shorter hospital stay and an earlier return to normal activity.

Additionally, we use the latest technology and advanced surgical techniques to save limbs and their function and appearance. By taking a multidisciplinary approach to sarcoma treatment, our surgeons have changed the way they operate on tumors. In the past, sarcomas occurring in the extremities (limbs) were routinely treated with amputation. Currently, limb-sparing surgery is often combined with radiation and chemotherapy, such that only about 5% of these cases require amputation.

As one of the world's leading sarcoma research centers, we helped pioneer many advancements that are used today around the world, including:

  • Highly effective, targeted radiation techniques, including the use of proton beam therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy and radiation therapy during surgery, to facilitate limb-sparing and organ-preserving surgical techniques and to minimize the risk of recurrence
  • High-quality surgery to remove retroperitoneal (space in the abdominal cavity) and extremity sarcomas with negative margins (cancer is not growing into the edges of the tissue removed), minimizing the chance of local recurrence
  • New ways to combine therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, to more successfully treat large, high-risk extremity sarcomas
  • Novel chemotherapy agents that are more effective, more targeted at the molecular level and that have fewer side effects

Preparing for your Surgery

Your care team will work with you to coordinate all aspects of your surgery. Depending on your case, you may see an anesthesiologist or a surgical specialist such as a plastic surgeon, in addition to your sarcoma surgeon, prior to surgery. You will be asked to come in for a follow-up visit two weeks after your surgery to assess your progress and discuss your treatment program further.

Research and Innovation

As an academic center, Mass General invests in research to understand diseases and develop new approaches to treatment. Our doctors are leaders within their respective fields and collaborate with colleagues in various departments across the hospital. As a patient, you benefit from shared expertise, leading research and our commitment to quality and excellence.

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