Pediatric Sarcoma

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Pictured: Michael LaQuaglia, Paul Meyers & Leonard Wexler

Team Approach: (From left) Pediatric surgeon Michael La Quaglia talks with sarcoma experts Paul Meyers and Leonard Wexler.

The Largest Pediatric Sarcoma Program in the World

Bones, muscles, and connective tissues make up the structural scaffolding that supports the body. Sarcomas are cancers in these supportive tissues. They most often occur in children, teens, and young adults. Some can be very challenging to treat.

Why choose MSK Kids for your child’s care?

If your child is diagnosed with a sarcoma, it’s important to receive care from a team of experts who have extensive experience treating these tumors. You also deserve the compassion and personal attention that your child and family need. Memorial Sloan Kettering is home to the largest program in the world for the care of all types of sarcomas in children, teens, and young adults. There are only 400 cases of osteosarcoma and 350 cases of Ewing sarcoma diagnosed in the United States annually; MSK Kids sarcoma specialists treat about 200 patients with sarcomas each year, giving us more experience than other centers. We see rare sarcomas that are seldom seen by doctors at other hospitals.

A Team of Pediatric Sarcoma Experts for Your Child

We customize the team of MSK Kids specialists needed for your child’s care. Your child’s care team may include pediatric oncologists, pediatric surgeons, pediatric radiation oncologists, pathologists who diagnose only sarcomas, pediatric radiologists, nurses and nurse practitioners, social workers, child life therapists, and others. Together, we combine our talents, expertise, and compassion to give every child the best chance of a cure. Each of your child’s doctors is a highly experienced world leader in sarcoma care.

How are pediatric sarcomas diagnosed?

The first step in treating a cancer effectively is accurately identifying what it is and the extent of its growth. This process is called staging. At MSK Kids, we have all the tools needed to diagnose and stage your child’s cancer. This starts with imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT and MRI scanning. We’ll also take a sample of your child’s tumor tissue. This is called a biopsy. We obtain the sample while your child is sedated with anesthesia. Our pathologists (doctors who specialize in diagnosing disease) will look at the sample under a microscope and analyze it. We will see if there are any genetic markers that provide more information on the type of sarcoma. For example, certain genetic changes are unique to desmoplastic small round cell tumor, Ewing sarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma. Genetic markers can help us confirm the diagnosis.

What makes a child’s cancer grow?

An accurate diagnosis is important, but at MSK Kids, we take the process one important step further. Through the precision tumor testing effort in our Pediatric Translational Medicine Program, we perform a genetic profile of every young patient’s tumor, including your child’s. We look for genetic changes that make the tumor grow. Armed with this information, your child’s doctors can see if there are anticancer drugs available that target those changes, or if there is a clinical trial of an investigational therapy for your child. MSK is the only center that performs this service as a routine part of every child’s care.

The Latest Pediatric Sarcoma Treatments

Your child’s treatment depends on the type of sarcoma and how advanced it is. The MSK Kids team offers the latest surgical techniques, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, precision radiation therapy — including proton therapy — and investigational treatments for sarcomas of every type and stage. Your child can receive all the care they need at MSK.

Clinical Trials of Promising Therapies

Learn how a clinical trial of larotrectinib saved Rihanna, who was born with a large sarcoma on her right arm. The drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in November 2018.

Today, the vast majority of children diagnosed with cancer can be cured. That achievement was made possible through clinical trials of innovative treatment approaches. MSK Kids has a vigorous clinical trials program. We are doing many studies for children with sarcoma, including national multicenter clinical trials as well as those initiated right here at MSK. These studies may give your child the opportunity to receive a groundbreaking investigational therapy early in its evaluation. Researchers at MSK have brought more new cancer drugs to market than investigators at any other pediatric cancer center. Your child’s care team will let you know if your child can participate in a clinical trial. The decision to enroll is entirely voluntary. The study team will explain the benefits and risks of the study to you so you can make an informed decision.