As with any type of cancer, the outlook for a patient is best when bone cancer is found early. The location of the initial tumor and whether the disease has spread are important factors for predicting outcome, although there are many factors that can affect outcome for any individual patient.
While a diagnosis of cancer can be frightening, a bone cancer diagnosis carries with it the additional fear of the possible loss of a limb. Surgeons will try to preserve your limb whenever they can reasonably do so. The good news is that in many cases they can. Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeons use a number of techniques for preserving limb function after bone cancer surgery. In some cases, the limb can be saved even when the insides of the bone need to be removed.
Cancer survivor Brian Wickman says that as long as he’s alive, he will consider himself a cancer survivor.
When amputation is necessary, our surgeons are skilled in performing the operation in a way that will allow the patient to have the best possible quality of life. There will always be a period of adjustment — both emotionally and physically — to the loss of a limb, but new surgical techniques and improved prostheses have made this adjustment easier. Most patients can resume active, even athletic, lives after losing a limb or part of a limb to bone cancer.
Relief of pain is an important issue for many patients with bone cancer. Memorial Sloan Kettering doctors have established pain management as a specialty, and work together with other members of the healthcare team to ensure that pain is managed adequately.
To ensure a smooth recovery and return to normal activities, we perform extensive evaluations of patients' gait (the way you walk) after treatment, and conduct a thorough assessment of any quality-of-life concerns. Rehabilitation specialists are available to assist with physical therapy needs and, if necessary, adjustment to a prosthesis. Visit the Rehabilitation section of this website for further information about our services, including appointment information.
Other Aspects of Survivorship
To help patients manage some of the other issues that may arise as a result of a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up treatment, Memorial Sloan Kettering offers a wide range of programs, including:
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Counseling Center
Our Counseling Center offers individual and family counseling sessions to help patients and their families address the problems that they may encounter in adjusting to life during and after treatment.
- Living Beyond Cancer
People facing the challenges of cancer survivorship can access a variety of support services through the Living Beyond Cancer section of our Web site. This section includes information about professionally led support groups and counseling; survivorship clinics to manage late effects of cancer and treatment; recommendations about screening and healthy living; and specialized services to address sexual and reproductive health. We also offer a range of resources to help survivors, families, and friends better understand the complex emotional and social issues following treatment.
Additional services are offered through our Resources for Life After Cancer program, which provides a full range of educational support services, including individual and family counseling, periodic lectures or workshops to provide medical updates, and practical guidance on employment and insurance issues.
- Integrative Medicine Service
Our Integrative Medicine Service is designed to enhance patients' quality of life through healing regimens that address the body, mind, and spirit. Beneficial complementary therapies include various types of massage, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, visualization and other mind-body therapies, music therapy, and nutritional counseling, as well as classes such as yoga, t'ai chi, and chair aerobics.
- Screening & Wellness
Memorial Sloan Kettering provides numerous prevention, screening, and wellness services. Information about these services; guidance on how to stop smoking; and how to follow a healthy diet can be found on our Web site in the Prevention & Screening section.
- Help for Older Patients
A diagnosis of cancer is difficult at any age, but older patients face unique challenges. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is committed to providing cancer patients aged 65 and older with the treatment, facilities, and support they need.
Memorial Sloan Kettering offers the services of a multidisciplinary geriatric team, which includes physicians, clinical nurse specialists, social workers, nutritionists, and psychiatrists, as well as members of the Palliative Medicine Service and the Integrative Medicine Service. The programs and care the team provides focus on the needs of elderly cancer patients.
For more information about our services for older patients as well as for their family and friends, visit the Help for Older Patients section of our website.
Access Information Through our Patient Portal
Memorial Sloan Kettering offers a secure website — called MYMSKCC — for patients to access personalized information about their care. If you enroll to use MYMSKCC, you can view, confirm, and keep track of appointments; access over 300 lab results; make changes to contact and insurance information; communicate with your healthcare team and other staff using secure electronic messages; and pay bills and view balances. Learn more about MYMSKCC.
To enroll in MYMSKCC, please ask a session assistant in clinic or contact your physician's office.