Led by Fazel Khan, MD, an orthopaedic oncology surgeon, Stony Brook’s team provides breakthrough treatment that can eliminate the need for amputation of the affected limb and improve quality of life for both adults and children.
Limb-sparing robotic-assisted surgery. Using advanced computer-based imaging technology, not only gives surgeons greater flexibility with the surgical instruments but also a more accurate and highly magnified view of the affected area, Dr. Khan is able to remove just the cancer while still leaving negative margins. The improved accuracy means that less healthy tissue needs to taken “to be on the safe side.” This, in turn, can spare a limb, a bone socket or the pelvis, which in the past would have had to have been removed to eliminate further risk of cancer. When followed by chemotherapy, there is now a 75 percent survival rate.
Joint replacement pilot. Currently, Stony Brook and the Mayo Clinic are two of only a few institutions in the world using a new material, called tantalum, for joint replacements in patients with metastatic bone cancer. Tantalum is a titanium-like material with a major benefit: it needs dramatically less “good” bone in order to attach to the replacement socket. For example, when bone cancer destroys a patient’s hip joint, traditional surgery is usually impossible because there is not enough of this good bone available. This can leave patients in agonizing pain, requiring large doses of pain medication, which, in turn, may leave them with a host of undesirable symptoms. Through the use of the tantalum material, surgeons can reconstruct the joint by attaching the new socket to the remaining bone. This not only gives patients more mobility and functionality, but it also substantially relieves their pain and decreases the amount of pain medication they may need.
A focus on quality of life. Both of these new surgical techniques revolve around creating a better quality of life for patients no matter what their diagnosis or life expectancy. In the past, 90 percent of patients with bone cancers would need amputations and of those, 80 percent would die, so the new limb-sparing technique promises vastly improved outcomes. With the joint replacement pilot, even patients with incurable bone cancers are candidates for surgery. This allows them to live the remainder of their lives with less pain and fewer medications — alert, aware and able to interact with friends and family.
The Sarcoma Team provides initial diagnosis, staging, treatment, and follow-up care. Patients are often evaluated initially by their primary care physician, or a general, vascular, or orthopedic surgeon. When patients are referred to the Sarcoma Team, their cases are discussed at a multidisciplinary conference and a treatment plan is developed in accordance with National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. Most patients can be treated with limb-sparing or minimally invasive techniques. Other specialists such as plastic or orthopedic surgeons may collaborate to achieve excellent functional outcomes.
Our exceptional clinical support services contribute to coordinated care. These include Nutrition Services, Palliative Care/Survivorship & Support and Physical and Occupational Rehabilitation, Therapeutic Yoga. For more information, see Patient Support.