• Bone & Soft Tissue Program

    Bone and soft tissue tumors form in the body’s connective tissues, which include bone, cartilage, blood and fat. These tumors fall into two major categories: benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors respond well to surgery, especially if they cause symptoms or injury to underlying bone or surrounding soft tissue. Malignant tumors, often called sarcomas, typically require treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy and surgery.

    Located in Boston, MA, the Bone & Soft Tissue Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center has the expertise to treat a wide range of newly diagnosed and relapsed musculoskeletal cancers and benign tumors, including:

    Benign Tumors

    • Bone cyst (aneurysmal)
    • Bone cyst (unicameral or simple)
    • Chondroblastoma 
    • Chondroma 
    • Desmoid tumor 
    • Leiomyoma
    • Lipoblastoma
    • Neurofibroma 
    • Non-ossifying fibroma
    • Osteochondroma 
    • Osteoid osteoma

    Malignant Tumors

    How We Diagnose and Treat Bone & Soft Tissue Tumors

    A quick and accurate diagnosis of cancer means that treatment can begin sooner rather than later. Our pediatric solid tumor specialists may perform a number of different tests to diagnose a musculoskeletal tumor. These include special diagnostic imaging studies such as X-rays, ultrasound and MRI, PET and CT scans, as well as magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a special test to detect metabolic changes in tissue, particularly muscle. We also perform bone scans, biopsies (including minimally invasive CT-guided core needle biopsies), bone marrow aspiration, and molecular diagnostic and genetic testing, which can help confirm the diagnosis.

    Benign bone and soft tissue tumors are primarily treated with surgery. Malignant tumors are typically treated with a combination of chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapy. We provide the following types of procedures:

    • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy, either before or after surgery, or both.
    • Curettage – an operation during which the tumor is scraped out of the bone with a special instrument.
    • Bone grafting – after curettage, the remaining cavity is packed with donor bone tissue, bone chips from another bone, or other material.
    • En bloc resection – surgical removal of the bone containing the tumor, rather than curettage.
    • Percutaneous radiofrequency ablation – a minimally invasive procedure in which high-temperature heat is used to kill cancer cells.
    • Limb-sparing surgery – removal of the portion of the limb in which the tumor is located.
    • Amputation – removal of an entire limb affected by a tumor.
    • Rotationplasty – an operation that preserves the lower leg and uses the ankle as the knee joint.
    • Stem cell transplantation – used to treat lymphoma of the bone to help restore normal blood production in patients whose own ability to make any or all blood cells has been compromised by cancer or treatment.
    • Arterial embolization – a procedure to block blood flow in abnormal vessels involved with a tumor.
    • Anti-inflammatory medications – to manage pain and reduce swelling but which also may cause the tumor to shrink slowly.
    • Rehabilitation – physical and occupational therapy, psychosocial adaptation, and prosthesis fitting and training.

    Our Bone & Soft Tissue Specialists

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children's patients have access to the broadest set of pediatric and oncologic and surgical expertise available. The breadth of our expertise allows us to assemble a team of specialists to meet the specific needs of each patient.

    We offer a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. Our team includes pediatric orthopedic and general surgeons, pediatric oncologists, radiation oncologists, oncologic orthopedists, and rehabilitation specialists, including physical and occupational therapists. Many of our physicians are also active researchers, so our patients have access to the very best and up-to-date treatments available.

    We round out the team with experts who help the child prepare for life during and after treatment, including psychiatrists and psychologists, child life specialists, social workers, nutritionists, and school specialists.     

    Bone and Soft Tissue Research & Clinical Trials

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children's is a world leader in opening new avenues of translational research, bringing laboratory advances to the bedside and doctors’ offices as quickly as possible. We also conduct extensive laboratory research to identify new treatments and improve therapies for bone and soft tissue tumors. Our researchers are routinely directing or participating in national and international clinical trials to develop new treatments for patients with newly diagnosed or relapsed bone and soft tissue tumors.

    We are coordinating numerous clinical trials that will help clinicians better understand and treat sarcomas. One of our pediatric oncologist/researchers is conducting a study in mice in order to identify new treatments for osteosarcoma. And, we recently participated in a study demonstrating that interval compression, a way of giving chemotherapy more intensively, improves outcomes for patients with Ewing sarcoma. Through this research, our physicians work to improve therapeutic approaches and outcomes for bone and soft tissue tumors.

  • Need Help? Speak with Us.

    Call 1-855-320-2092. We can answer your questions about treatment, second opinions, and new patient scheduling. In urgent cases, we typically can see new patients within 24 hours.
  • Solid Tumor Clinical Trials

    Learn about our research and clinical trials aimed at improving the way we treat solid tumors, including the use of innovative therapies.callout bg
  • Treating Solid Tumors

    Kathryn Janeway MD talks about caring for children with solid tumors. She is always inspired by the resilience of children with cancer, and their families.