Patients with sarcomas face a challenging enemy. It is the primary mission of The University of Arizona Cancer Center's Sarcoma Multidisciplinary Clinic to bring together a winning team for the care of sarcoma patients in Arizona. We strive to provide all of the specialty expertise for our patients in an integrated clinic. This improves communication between the team members, allowing rapid development and implementation of the most appropriate treatment plan for a given patient.
Sarcomas are a class of relatively rare tumors that derive from bone, muscle, cartilage, fat and similar tissues. Approximately 10,000 patients in the United States develop a sarcoma annually. About 25 percent of these involve the bones, while the remainder arises outside the bones and are referred to as "soft tissue sarcomas." In both of these categories are numerous diseases, often exceedingly rare. Most physicians, even cancer specialists, have little experience in the management of these conditions.
Optimal treatment of sarcomas requires personalization to meet the needs of a given patient. Most patients require input from physicians and surgeons with a variety of skill sets. From their initial visit to our center, our patients’ care is defined by a close and collegial interaction between practitioners skilled in various aspects of sarcoma management. These include specialists with expertise in adult medical oncology, pediatric medical oncology, surgical oncology, orthopedic oncology, radiation oncology and bone/joint radiology. When necessary and appropriate, we also draw on the skills of supporting staff and practitioners skilled in psychosocial oncology, pain management, genetic counseling and social work.
Tying this team together is our sarcoma nurse coordinator. This is an experienced nurse with special expertise in sarcoma management. In consultation with our clinical staff, our nurse coordinator is able to make a preliminary assessment of patient needs and gather needed case information (pathology reports, radiological imaging studies, prior treatment history) to aid in the initial treatment planning and assessment. This leads to our biweekly case management conference, usually held prior to a patient’s initial visit, and also as needed during the course of a patient’s treatment. In this conference, the actual case records and imaging studies are reviewed by the multidisciplinary team to determine the likely initial course of treatment and plan any needed assessments or investigations. The subsequent visit, consultations and testing, and the ongoing course of patient management are then coordinated by our sarcoma nurse coordinator. Our dedicated nurse coordinator serves also as a contact for the patient thereafter, allowing any needs or concerns to be relayed to the appropriate staff member or clinician and addressed as quickly as possible.
The University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Sarcoma Multidisciplinary Clinic is our patients' team. We bring together individuals with the needed skills to fight these challenging illnesses along with our patients. Those facing a sarcoma diagnosis in themselves or a loved one are not facing this problem alone. They have a team of dedicated professionals standing alongside of them: the Sarcoma Multidisciplinary Clinic of the Arizona Cancer Center.