Treatment Options for Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors

Every child comes to us with a unique story. Bone and soft tissue tumor treatment options vary widely depending on each patient’s condition, needs and medical history. Our team will work with your family to determine the most effective treatment for your child’s tumor.

Our doctors pride themselves on finding creative solutions to difficult problems and have an excellent record of helping patients return to their normal lives after tumor removal. Here are some of the bone and soft tissue tumor treatment options that set our program apart.

An alternative to surgery for some bone and soft tissue tumors

We are one of the few children’s hospitals in the country to offer magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound ablation, which can remove some tumors without traditional surgery or radiation exposure. HIFU can focus sound waves from an ultrasound on a single location, such as a tumor, to kill just the tumor while minimizing damage to the surrounding tissue. Our doctors were the first to use this type of ultrasound, also called high-frequency focused ultrasound (HIFU), on pediatric desmoid tumors, a type of benign tumor.

Advanced surgical techniques for benign and malignant tumors

Our team uses the most effective and innovative surgical treatments available to remove benign (non-cancerous) tumors and cancerous tumors (sarcomas), including the following:

  • Advanced limb salvage: In many cases, our surgeons can remove a bone or soft tissue tumor in the arm or leg without amputating the limb.
  • Bone grafting: Taking bone from another area of the body—or from another person, also called an allograft—to replace bone that is lost when removing a tumor.
  • Curettage: A way of removing a benign tumor by scooping it out of the bone instead of removing a section of bone.
  • Customized implants: Using 3D modeling, we can create implants that are the perfect size and shape to replace bone lost during surgery.
  • Endoprostheses: An internal prosthetic that helps replace bone lost during surgery but allows our surgeons to save the limb and avoid amputation. This type of prosthetic has been shown to reduce pain and help patients get back to everyday activities faster after surgery.

Cancerous tumor treatment from world-renowned sarcoma experts

If your child has a bone or soft tissue sarcoma, treatment options may include chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery.

  • Chemotherapy, or medicine that attacks cancer cells, can help shrink the tumor as a first step of treatment.
  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays, gamma rays or electron beams to kill or shrink the sarcoma.
  • Surgery may then be used to remove the remaining tumor.

Our doctors have pioneered groundbreaking clinical trials that led to sarcoma treatments now used all over the world as the standard of care. 

  • Sheri Spunt, MD, MBA, is an internationally renowned expert in early-stage sarcoma research and treatment, and she oversees dozens of clinical trials available to our patients.
  • We are the only hospital on the West Coast involved in the Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigators' Consortium (POETIC), which brings innovative clinical trials for solid tumors to our patients.

Attacking rare sarcomas at the genetic level

Stanford’s Sheri Spunt, MD, MBA, is a rare tumor expert working to develop next-generation sarcoma treatments.

  • She is developing a tumor bank, gathering samples of more than 30 different kinds of rare sarcomas from across the country.
  • She will analyze the DNA of each tumor sample to better understand what kind of genetic mutations can cause certain sarcomas, with the hope of developing new, more targeted treatments.
  • Genetic analysis of the tumors will also help her understand how patients with different genetic mutations in their tumors fare over time.
  • She will make this information available to patients and other doctors to help advance sarcoma treatment for everyone.

Immunotherapy for solid tumors

Immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to attack cancer, was initially available only to children with leukemia. But Stanford doctors and researchers are working to develop immunotherapy treatments for solid tumors as well. Stanford’s Crystal Mackall, MD, and others have conducted research in mice showing that CAR-T cells—engineered versions of the body’s own immune cells—can target and kill many types of pediatric solid tumors, including osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma and medulloblastoma.

A clinical trial for patients with osteosarcoma is open now, and we are working to open clinical trials for other types of solid tumors soon.

Advanced imaging with reduced radiation exposure

We are one of the few programs in the country to offer PET/MRI imaging, which is often used to diagnose and track treatment progress in solid tumors. PET/MRI combines two different technologies into one scan, which helps us get a clearer picture of your child’s tumor while reducing radiation exposure and time under anesthesia.