Sarcoma Center

Patients across the nation, and worldwide, come to the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center for truly individualized care.

Recognized by the National Cancer Institute as a designated comprehensive cancer center, our program provides access to specialists in every discipline, offering the kind of in-depth expertise only possible at a major academic medical institution.  Our physicians are global leaders in innovative technologies, genetics, clinical trials and "bench to bedside" research, allowing us to offer the most advanced therapies for sarcoma.

What is sarcoma?

Sarcoma is an uncommon family of different cancers that arise from the connective tissues of the body such as the bone, cartilage and muscle.  Although sarcomas may arise anywhere in the body, they most often begin in the arms, legs, chest, or in the abdomen.  Sarcomas often do not cause symptoms until they are very large and may first be found as swelling or a painless lump.  As they grow larger, they can cause pain or soreness by pressing on surrounding nerves or muscles and can eventually spread to other organs. As yet, no one knows why some people develop these growths and others don’t.

What are the different types of sarcoma?

There are many different types of sarcoma, but they can be generally be categorized as either bone sarcomas or soft tissue sarcomas.  Each type of sarcoma has a unique biology and behavior, and many require therapies specific to that particular sarcoma subtype.

  • Bone Sarcoma:  Three main kinds of sarcoma affect the body’s skeletal structure and include osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma or primitive neuroectodermal tumor, and chondrosarcoma.
  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma:  There are more than fifty different subtypes of soft tissue sarcoma.  The two most common types of soft tissue sarcomas are liposarcomas, which arise in the fatty tissues of the body, and gastrointestinal stromal sarcomas (GIST) that begin in the gastrointestinal tract.  Other subtypes include synovial sarcoma, fibrosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor, angiosarcoma, hemangiopericytoma or solitary fibrous tumor, alveolar soft part sarcoma, and high grade undifferentiated sarcoma, among many others.

How do we diagnose sarcoma?

Sarcomas can present as a bump or mass in the extremities or abdomen.  Although these tumors sometimes cause discomfort, they can also be asymptomatic early in the course of the disease.  Patients are naturally concerned when finding a lump in the arm, leg, or trunk of the body yet it is important to remember that most lumps are not sarcomas.  A lipoma, for example, is a very common benign growth—made of fat cells, not cancer cells.   It is important to have any lump or swelling immediately evaluated by a physician.

It is crucial that a multidisciplinary team familiar with the many different types of sarcoma is involved in the diagnosis and management of sarcoma.  Review of a tumor sample that is collected by biopsy or surgical excision under the microscope by a pathologist experienced in sarcoma along with the use of special pathological and molecular testing is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.  Imaging studies such as CT scans or MRI scans may be used to assess what parts of the body may be involved with the cancer.

How do we treat sarcoma?

Sarcomas include a broad range of cancers that account for approximately 100 different types of distinct cancers. Some types are so rare that only handfuls are diagnosed each year in the United States. Specialized care by experts focused exclusively on sarcoma treatment is essential as each sarcoma type is treated differently.

As each patient and each sarcoma is unique, we develop a treatment plan in a multidisciplinary fashion that is designed especially for your case.  Each case is reviewed by our team of sarcoma experts that includes medical oncologists, surgical oncologists  orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery and radiation oncologists.  The treatment plan may include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy

Clinical Trials and Research

The sarcoma clinical trial research portfolio at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center provides our patients with access to the most promising and cutting edge targeted and immunological agents in development for sarcoma therapy.

Read more information on our ongoing clinical trials.

Our Approach and Expertise

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is home to the strongest multidisciplinary Sarcoma Center on the East Coast. The Center’s comprehensive clinical and research program is supported by faculty members and staff from the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Departments of Surgery and Radiation Oncology.

Faculty

Medical Oncology

  • Gary K. Schwartz
    Chief, Division of Hematology and Oncology
    Associate Director, HICCC
    Professor of Medicine

Orthopedic Oncology

  • Francis Lee
    Chief, Tumor and Bone Disease Service
    Vice Chair for Research, Orthopedic Surgery
    Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery
  • Robert Steffner
    Professor of Orthopedic Surgery

Surgical Oncology

Pathology

Radiation Oncology

Appointments

For an appointment with one of our outstanding physicians, call 212-305-5098, Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.