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Sarcoma Alliance Urges Patients to Go to Multidisciplinary Centers

  •     A sarcoma medical group consisting of all specialties, including surgical, orthopedic and medical oncologists; radiologists; pathologists; and oncology nursing as well as rehabilitation services.
  •     At least one group member who belongs to a sarcoma-oriented medical organization, such as the Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS).
  •     Publications concerning sarcoma in peer-reviewed journals.
  •     Sarcoma conferences (e.g. Tumor Board), where sarcoma group members meet at least once per month to discuss patient care issues.
  •     At least 100 sarcoma patients seen per year.
  •     MRI imaging available; PET scans desired.
  •     Patient enrollment in clinical trials.
  •     Strong support personnel such as social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists.
  •      Sarcoma support group desired.

“Since there are approximately 50 types of sarcoma, accurate diagnosis by a world-class pathologist is the first step in an optimal treatment plan. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are all critical approaches toward treatment of the primary tumor, prevention of tumor spread, and therapy of sarcoma even after it has spread to other sites. Radiologists are key to diagnosis, recurrence, and assessment of response to therapy. Rare diseases such as sarcoma are best managed by an experienced multidisciplinary team at a comprehensive cancer center such as The Sylvester Cancer Center in Miami,” says Jonathan Trent, MD, PhD, a sarcoma medical oncologist who recently moved to Miami from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He will present research at this week’s meeting in Chicago.

Especially with a rare cancer, most doctors will not mind if a patient seeks a second opinion. It’s a bad sign if a physician is offended, Murphy says. Sarcoma centers allow patients to schedule appointments without a referral from their current physicians, although some insurance plans may require a referral for reimbursement. Sarcoma centers often can help patients with insurance questions, as well as travel plans.

After getting a second opinion, some patients may choose to get part or all of their treatment closer to home, with a doctor in the sarcoma center consulting with the local doctor, Murphy says. If nothing else, a second opinion may reassure patients that they are getting the best treatment available.

The Sarcoma Alliance, a national nonprofit based in Mill Valley, Calif., offers guidance, education and support for people affected by sarcoma.


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