The Medical Minute: Multidisciplinary cancer care

June 23, 2009

By Edward J. Fox

A diagnosis of cancer can be a frightening time for anyone, but today, the cancer patient need not go it alone. Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute offers teams of doctors that are leaders in cancer treatment and research, providing expert diagnosis, advanced multidisciplinary surgical treatment, unique radiation oncology treatment, and innovative medical therapy.

One example is the Sarcoma Team, which specializes in the care of patients with unique and rare malignant cancers. The team comprises numerous cancer specialists experienced in the diagnosis, treatment, and research of malignant tumors of the extremities, pelvis, and spine. Members of the team include physicians trained in surgical oncology, orthopaedic oncology surgery, neurosurgery, thoracic surgery, plastic surgery, radiation oncology, adult and pediatric hematology oncology, pathology, and radiology, and people dedicated to cutting-edge sarcoma research.

Specialists in pathology and radiology at the Cancer Institute utilize advanced techniques, such as diagnosis by minimally invasive, CT-guided, fine-needle aspiration biopsy; characterization of tumor subtypes by state-of-the-art staining and molecular methods; combined CT/PET imaging; and high-tech MRI machines, to determine with extreme accuracy the diagnosis and location of malignant tumors.

Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute hematology oncologists specialize in chemotherapy treatments and have access to innovative treatments for patients through national multicenter clinical research studies that are not typically available at smaller hospitals.

Radiation oncologists at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute utilize cutting-edge technologies, including image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and image-guided brachytherapy, which offer the potential to treat cancer precisely to maximize outcomes while minimizing side effects for the patient.

Oncology surgeons at the Cancer Institute, including surgical and orthopaedic oncologists, plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons, thoracic surgeons, and urology and gynecology oncology, work as teams in the operating room to accomplish the task of removing difficult tumors, while providing limb salvage and reconstruction options to maximally preserve function, appearance, and quality of life for our patients.

The ultimate mission of this collaboration of specialists is to develop the best cancer care anywhere for our patients — from rapid tumor diagnosis and effective treatment planning based on current research and the latest limb sparing and reconstructive surgical procedures, to clinical trials for treatment not conventionally offered elsewhere. For more information or an appointment, please call (717) 531-6585.

Locally, join Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute on Saturday, June 27, for an introduction to the region’s only comprehensive cancer center. The community open house, open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., begins with a ribbon-cutting and offers a cancer-related wellness fair, cancer educational programs, and an art exhibit created solely by cancer survivors, with special guest appearances by members of the Hershey Bears. For details visit

Edward J. Fox is associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation and director of medical student musculoskeletal education in the Division of Orthopaedic Oncology.

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Last Updated June 30, 2009