Surgery often is the main method used to treat musculoskeletal tumors.
In some cases, surgery alone is needed. The goal of surgery is to remove
all tumor tissue and, if the tumor is cancerous, to remove any tissues
that may harbor cancer cells (called local control), while
preserving the function of normal tissues as much as possible.
The following surgical procedures are performed at Lankenau Medical
Center for the treatment of musculoskeletal tumors:
This is a common method of treating benign bone tumors. The procedure
involves surgically scraping the tumor out of the bone and then filling
the hole with a bone graft or with bone cement.
Resection (or excision) refers to surgically removing
a tumor. This is the main method used to treat many benign and most
cancerous tumors (sarcomas). For sarcomas, to ensure that as many cancer
cells are removed as possible, the surgeon also removes some
normal-appearing tissue surrounding the tumor. This is called a wide
resection or wide excision.
The pathologist analyzes the tumor specimen after it has been removed to
confirm the tumor’s grade and to look for any cancer cells that may
exist in the outermost edges of the specimen (called the surgical
margin). A negative or cleanmargin
indicates that there are no tumor cells in the surgical margin. A wide
excision with negative surgical margins is the goal, as this improves
the chance of cure.
Limb-Sparing Surgery with Reconstruction
Limb-sparing surgery refers to a type of wide resection
procedure that is done to remove a cancerous tumor in an arm or a leg.
When feasible, limb-sparing surgery is the preferred treatment for
The goal of limb-sparing surgery is to effectively treat the cancer
(remove the tumor and achieve negative surgical margins) while
preserving good function of the limb. To accomplish this, the surgeon
must remove all cancerous tissue and a small margin of healthy tissue
while sparing muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels as much as
possible so that the limb remains functional.
Limb-sparing surgery is followed by a limb reconstruction procedure in
which the limb is “rebuilt” and any removed bone is replaced with a
metal implant (prosthesis) or a transplanted bone. Soft tissue such as
muscle and blood vessels also may be transplanted to reconstruct a limb.
In some but few cases, it is necessary to remove all or part of a leg or
an arm in order to effectively treat a cancerous tumor and give a
patient the best chance for cure. Amputation typically is needed when a
tumor is large or has invaded nerves and/or blood vessels needed to
support limb function. Following amputation, the orthopedic surgical
oncologist works closely with an amputation prosthetist to select the
best prosthesis for the patient.
To schedule an appointment at the Musculoskeletal Tumor Center, call
1.866.CALL.MLH or use the online
appointment request form. Instructions for new patients are
Lankenau Cancer Center
Schedule an appointment with a Lankenau cancer specialist:
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.