• Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program

    Doctors, nurses, and other caregivers from the Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program care for children and teens with benign and malignant tumors, from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up. Our team uses the latest diagnostic approaches to identify treatments that improve your child’s quality of life now and into adulthood.

    If your child’s tumor is benign, she will be cared for by an expert orthopedic group within Boston Children’s Hospital. Our pediatric orthopedic surgeons are nationally recognized for their expertise in caring for pediatric bone tumors and soft tissue tumors.

    If your child’s tumor is malignant, the Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center combines the expertise of Boston Children's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for the comprehensive medical and surgical care of malignant bone and soft tissue tumors in children and teens.

    Our Approach

    We consider you and your child integral parts of the care team. We will work together with you to customize a state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary plan of care based on your child’s specific needs and diagnosis.

    Your child’s care team may include pediatric:

    • Orthopedic surgeons
    • Oncologists
    • Radiotherapists
    • Surgeons
    • Pathologists
    • Radiologists
    • Nurses
    • Psychosocial clinicians
    • Physical therapists

    We’re here to answer your questions and to support you and your family every step of the way.

    As you consider where to seek care for your child, it may help to know that research shows that children have better outcomes when surgeons with expertise in treating these conditions provide care.

    About Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors

    Bone and soft tissue tumors form in the body’s connective tissue, which includes bone, cartilage, blood, and fat. Some, but not all, of these tumors are malignant or cancerous, meaning they have the ability to spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are often called sarcomas.

    The Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program treats children with benign and malignant conditions. For information on a particular condition, please see the list of conditions we treat below.

    Our Expertise

    As one of the nation’s largest referral centers and one of the few centers in the country with extensive experience in limb salvage surgery, our renowned team of radiologists, pathologists, oncologists, and surgeons collaborate to provide the best care possible for children with benign musculoskeletal tumors, as well as comprehensive pediatric cancer treatment.

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center offers a multidisciplinary treatment approach to care for children with malignant tumors. Because we are New England’s Phase I referral center for the Children’s Oncology Group—an international consortium of cancer treatment centers that conducts studies of pediatric cancers—we also offer clinical trials that are unavailable at other regional centers. Further, we provide long-term pediatric cancer treatment and support through Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s David B. Perini Jr. Quality of Life Clinic.

    Advances in Care

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center was one of the first childhood cancer care centers in the country to use adjuvant chemotherapy and to perform limb salvage surgery for pediatric oncology patients with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone tumor.

    Over the last three decades, our center has led groundbreaking research and offered advanced treatments for children with all types of bone and soft tissue tumors. For example, our team is researching the effectiveness of non-invasive vs. open treatments for aneurysmal bone cysts and desmoids fibromatosis.

    In addition to providing state-of-the-art multidisciplinary care, we incorporate genomic characterization of all bone and soft tissue tumors in order to advance knowledge and identify genetic alterations that could inform personalized precision treatments.

    Our center also has been involved in a long-term follow-up study to learn about quality of life and outcomes for limb salvage surgery, rotationplasty, and amputation for children who have had sarcoma of the lower leg.

    Conditions We Treat

    Our doctors are experts in the treatment of children with benign and malignant bone and soft tissue tumors.

    Benign Tumors

    Malignant Tumors

    How We Diagnose and Treat Bone and 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, and 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 salvage 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 also may cause the tumor to shrink slowly.
    • Rehabilitation – physical and occupational therapy, psychosocial adaptation, and prosthesis fitting and training.
  • Solid Tumor Clinical Trials

    Through research and clinical trials, we are developing innovative therapies and helping to improve treatment for solid tumors.callout bg
  • Rotationplasty

    Our orthopedic surgeons, clinicians, and families discuss rotationplasty, a surgical option for treating certain bone tumors. It allows a child to avoid full amputation of the leg.

  • Treating Solid Tumors

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