Musculoskeletal tumors are classified into three categories: benign, malignant and metastatic. To learn more about the difference between these, read our page on Sarcoma Basics.
When surgery is performed for a bone or soft tissue cancer, i.e. sarcoma,, a portion of normal adjacent soft tissue is removed along with the tumor. This is called a “wide resection”. In many cases, the patient will also undergo radiation, chemotherapy or both in addition to surgery. Some examples of bone sarcomas include osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma and chondrosarcoma. Some examples of soft tissue sarcomas include liposarcoma, undifferentiated (spindle cell) sarcoma and synovial sarcoma.
See some Sarcoma Case Studies
Benign Tumor Surgery
When surgery is performed for benign tumors, only the tumor itself is removed, no additional tissue or muscle needs to be removed. When the tumor is in a bone, a “curettage-resection” is performed. This is were the bone is left intact, while the tumor is removed from inside the bone using manual "curettage" and sometimes small power instruments. When the tumor is in the soft tissues, the mass is removed while leaving intact the adjacent muscles and other tissues.
Metastatic Bone Cancer Surgery
Surgery for metastatic bone tumors is performed to improve quality of life for the patient. Surgery is not expected to alter the course of the cancer. In most cases, surgery is performed to treat or prevent a fracture threatened by an organ cancer (“carcinoma”), such as breast, lung or kidney cancer, that has spread to the bones.