Meet Medical Oncologist William Tap


William Tap is Chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Sarcoma Medical Oncology Service. Learn more about how he chose a career in providing cutting-edge treatment to people with different types of soft tissue sarcoma and why patients benefit from coming to Memorial Sloan Kettering for treatment.

What sparked your interest in oncology, and treating patients with sarcoma in particular?

Oncology was something I got interested in during medical school. I had several clinical mentors who were oncologists, and I got to see up close the strong physician-patient relationship that develops. I thought oncology offered a unique insight into that relationship.

I chose sarcoma as my specialty because I felt it was an area of unmet need in medical oncology. There is an opportunity to have a real impact in the field by doing research, which brings in new therapies for patients and enables new understanding about this complex set of diseases.

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What is special about being a medical oncologist in sarcoma at Memorial Sloan Kettering?

It really comes down to the resources we have to perform the type of research that is needed to improve patient care. There are some amazing scientific minds here: basic and translational researchers and clinicians who all focus on sarcoma. From surgeons and pathologists to radiologists and radiation oncologists, we have a whole team of experts who have dedicated their lives to treating patients with sarcoma.

Because sarcoma is so rare, not many doctors see it in community hospitals — or even at most academic medical centers. Patients come from all over the world to be treated here. And when patients are diagnosed with sarcoma, it’s important for them to come to a center of excellence like ours to make sure they are on the right path with their treatments.

One great thing about Memorial Sloan Kettering is that in addition to the medical care we offer, we have social and support systems in place for sarcoma patients. We also have the expertise to be able to help patients navigate through the difficulties of treatment, including issues like working with insurance companies.

When patients come to me, I tell them I’m in this business because I have hope that I can help them. My whole team does. I tell them we are going to take this journey together, and I will be there to support them along the way.

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How does research contribute to better treatments for patients with sarcoma?

Because sarcoma is actually many different kinds of cancer — more than 50 subtypes — we need to pull from many areas of basic research to understand all those various types. Translational research bridges the labs with the clinics and brings science to the patients more quickly. But to do that, you have to have crosstalk between all these experts.

We also have to listen to and learn from our patients, so there is a bidirectional flow from the lab to the clinic and back. We can learn a lot from what patients tell us about how a drug is affecting them and what its side effects are. It helps us determine the most appropriate way to use the drug. We also listen to what a patient’s disease is telling us and what their scans reveal about how effective the drugs are.

I’m a firm believer that sarcoma research is blowing up right now. As an area of unmet need, it is fertile ground for drug and technology advances. More people are investing resources in the development of better sarcoma treatments, and because of that I expect to see a great boost in new treatments in the next five years.

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My wife and I meet Dr Tap one year ago this month.7/24/2014. He made us feel relaxed and we felt very safe putting my life in his hands. Today 1yr later Cancer free !!! He gives you his time and answers any questions we may have big or small. Could talk all day about how great this man is, but just cant thank him and the DRs at SloneK. for all they do for me and everyone!! God Bless them all . Wayne DeLong and the DeLong family.

I have stage IV non-small cell lung cancer, with ALK mutation gene. Currently, taking Xalkori, which based on my PET scan in May appears to be working. Told this drug is not effective for a long period of treatment (at the most up to 2 years). What options are there when this drug becomes ineffective? Are there other approved drugs? Should I make an appointment now or wait until my current drug becomes ineffective? Do I need to get copies of all my scans/tests? Or do you conduct your own tests to determine what treatment options are advisable.

Tammy, thank you for your comment. If you contact our Physician Referral Service at 800-525-2225 they should be able to answer your questions about getting a consult for a second opinion and what medical information (such as scans or tests) you will need to provide. Our doctors do use Xalkori for the ALK mutation and there may be an ongoing clinical trial that is relevant to your lung cancer. See

We were relieved and excited to find MSKCC Sarcoma teams. We knew instantly that we weren't unique. We immediately knew that we were in the right hands. The Dr's and teams of professionals are the miracle and angels we are all looking for when going through a crisis such as a rare sarcoma.

My paperwork was sent to your office last Tues from MSKCC Commack. I am having surgery by Sept 2 (date open to change). Will I be hearing from you before surgery? Is there anything I can be doing while I wait to have this angiosarcoma and my breast removed (diet etc). I would like your advice on what to do about my other breast. Thank you. I had lumpectomy, reincision, chemo and radiation 5 years ago.

Jane, thank you for reaching out. This blog is actually not monitored by physicians, so comments are not seen by them.

We recommend you contact Dr. Tap’s office at 646-888-4163 if you have questions about your treatment.

Thank you for your comment.

my mother has myxofibrosarcoma of rectus abdominal muscle., happened third time. and operated with safe margins, what is the further treatment? need help.

Can Estrace be used by a breast cancer patient that is taking an estrogen blocking medication. The doctor said any additional estrogen in the body,can cause more cancer to grow.

Linda, we are not able to answer personal medical questions on our blog. This is something you should discuss with your healthcare providers. If you’d like to make an appointment to speak with someone at MSK, you can call 800-525-2225 or go to for more information. Thank you for your comment.

Histiocytic sarcoma is what we're dealing with. We have read your info and blogs but don't see very much on that type of sarcoma. Are you a specialist in this type of sarcoma as well? We need information ASAP

Nice to know about Dr William Tap. I am a Radiation Oncologist from India and we need your help in treatment of my Sister's husband who is suffering from Dedifferentiated Chondrosarcoma of Right Scapula. He underwent Type IV Scapulectomy in mid April this year and started on Adjuvant Chemotherapy with Adriamycin plus Ifosphamide. Unfortunately today we did a CT thorax and found multiple lung metastases. We have done all tests including blood/tissue genetic analysis which we can share via email. We are ready to visit MSKCC for further management since the patient has good performance status and can travel to USA.
Kindly guide us.

Dear Amit, we are sorry to hear about your brother-in-law’s diagnosis. Please contact our International Center, which can help you make arrangements for your brother to consult with one of our specialists about the next steps in his care. Their email address is To learn more about the services our International Center provides for patients who live outside of the US, please visit Thank you for reaching out to us.

Dr. Tap was my wife, Kathy Van Cott's, oncologist when he was at UCLA. Kathy was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in 2009 and we have never met such a kind, caring and knowledgeable physician.
Although we lost her in 2012, upon reflection, we are confident that everything possible was provided while under Dr Tap's care.
MSKCC should be proud to be associated with such an amazing gentleman.

Dear David, we are very sorry for your loss, but glad to hear that your wife was well cared for. We will forward your comment to Dr. Tap. Best wishes to you.

My 84 year old mother was recently diagnosed with angiosarcoma after having two bleeding bumps on her scalp. There are no doctors specializing in SC in sarcomas. Do you treat this type of cancer?

Dear Barbara, we’re very sorry to hear about your mother’s diagnosis. MSK doctors have experience in treating a wide range of sarcoma types. If your mother would like to come to New York City for a consultation you can call 800-525-2225 or go to for more information on making an appointment. If your mother is not able to travel to New York for treatment, you may want to look for National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center that is closer to where you live. You can find a list here:

Thank you for your comment, and best wishes to both of you.

I have been diagnosed with Tenosynovial Giant Cell Tumors: One in the knee and one in the thigh at the same time. They have been removed. It took months to get the right diagnosis.
Do you see patients with that condition?
Thank you
Miriam Norten

Does Dr Tap have experience treating successfully metastatic CIC Sarcoma without DUX4 fusion? Any clinical trials to this specific genetic subtype?

Dear Dr Tap, I was diagnosed with Follicular Dendritic Cell Sarcoma in Singapore when the specimen removed by surgery was sent for biopsy. Would you kindly advise if Dr Tap and/or other doctors in MSKCC have treated this cancer ? I have already made plan to visit MSKCC in NYC. Just need a confirmation that there is doctor(s) who can treat this condition. Regards, Vuthy from CAMBODIA

Dear Vuthy, we’re sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Members of our sarcoma team have expertise in treating all types of sarcoma. When you come to MSK, you will have access to the expertise of our whole team, because they all work together to consult on cases. Thank you for your comment and best wishes to you.