What's the treatment for chondrosarcoma?
Treatment for a low-grade chondrosarcoma involves an operation to remove the tumor. This kind of surgery alone is usually sufficient to cure these less-invasive tumors.
A rapidly growing, high-grade chondrosarcoma may include surgery combined with other forms of therapy, which are discussed below.
Surgery for chondrosarcoma involves the biopsy, surgical removal of the tumor, bone/skin grafts, limb salvage procedures, amputation and/or reconstruction, all performed by a surgeon. The type of surgery will depend on the size and location of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread.
It is sometimes necessary to remove all or part of a limb. In most cases, however, limb-sparing surgery is used to avoid amputation.
Through limb-sparing surgery, all of the bone and cartilage involved with the tumor, including some degree of muscle surrounding it, is removed, while nearby tendons, nerves and vessels are saved.
The bone that is removed is replaced with a bone graft or with a metal prosthesis.
Subsequent surgery may be needed to repair or replace rods, which can become loose or break.
Children who have undergone limb-sparing surgery need intensive rehabilitation. It may take as long as a year for your child to regain full use of a limb following limb- sparing surgery.
Rarely, children who undergo limb-sparing surgery may eventually have to have the limb amputated because of a severe complication or tumor recurrence.
If your child's orthopedic surgeon determines that the tumor cannot be removed because it involves important nerves and blood vessels, amputation is the only surgical option.
During the operation, doctors ensure that muscles and skin form a cuff around the amputated bone.
As the swelling decreases, (10 to 14 days), your child will be fitted for a plastic, temporary socket and prosthesis, which is used for two to four months until the stump is healed sufficiently to accept a permanent artificial limb.
The advantages of an amputation are that it is a simple operation with minimal chances of surgical complication and it definitively removes the local tumor. The functional outcome is good with the modern prostheses available today and with "immediate-fit" prostheses applied in the operating room.
Although your child will probably have a limp with above-the-knee amputations, the procedure is functional and stable.
Your child will be able to walk, climb stairs, swim (with the prosthesis on or off) and participate in many sports such as skiing, basketball, baseball and tennis, although running will be limited.
This therapy is rarely used in chondrosarcoma except for extremely aggressive forms of the disease.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce.
- Different groups of chemotherapy drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells and shrink tumors.
- Often, a combination of chemotherapy drugs is used.
- Certain chemotherapy drugs may be given in a specific order depending on the type of cancer it is being used to treat.
While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the agents don't differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells.
Because of this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help the care team, parents, and child prepare, and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms from occurring, if possible.
Chemotherapy is systemic treatment, meaning it is introduced to the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given:
- as a pill to swallow
- as an injection into the muscle or fat tissue
- intravenously (directly to the bloodstream)
- intrathecally (directly into the spinal column with a needle)
Rehabilitation includes physical and occupational therapy along with psychosocial counseling.
Supportive care is any type of treatment to prevent and treat infections, side effects of treatments and complications, and to keep your child comfortable during treatment.
Continual follow-up care
A schedule of follow-up care will be determined by your child's physician and other members of your care team to monitor ongoing response to treatment and possible late effects of treatment.
What is the long-term outlook for patients with chondrosarcoma?
Prognosis for chondrosarcoma greatly depends on:
- the extent of the disease
- the size and location of the tumor
- presence or absence of metastasis
- the tumor's response to therapy
- the age and overall health of your child
- your child's tolerance of specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- new developments in treatment
Every child is unique and treatment and prognosis is structured around your child's needs. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis.
What is the recommended long-term care for children treated for chondrosarcomas?
Children treated for chondrosarcomas should visit a survivorship clinic every year to:
- manage disease complications
- screen for early recurrence of cancer
- manage late effects of treatment
A typical follow-up visit may include some or all of the following:
- a physical exam
- laboratory testing
- imaging scans
Through the David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, childhood cancer survivors receive a comprehensive follow-up evaluation from their cancer care team.
- Our childhood cancer survivorship clinic is held weekly.
- In addition to meeting with your pediatric oncologists, your child may see one of our endocrinologists, cardiologists, neurologists, neuro-psychologists or alternative/complementary therapy specialists.
We also offer the following services:
- patient and family education
- psychosocial assessment
- genetic counseling
- reproductive and fertility evaluation and counseling
- opportunities to speak with other childhood cancer survivors