A Team Approach for Treating Sarcoma in Children and Adults

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On this episode of Patient Power, sponsored by Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), listeners will learn about team approaches for treating sarcoma in both children and adults. Recognized around the world as a pioneer in the treatment of sarcoma, Dr. Earnest “Chappie” Conrad joins Andrew for a look at what both young and adults patients can expect in the future of treating sarcoma, surgically and non-surgically. Among his many titles, Dr. Conrad is chairman of orthopedics at Seattle Children's Hospital. He's also director of the sarcoma service for the SCCA, and he's co vice chairman of orthopedics at the University of Washington.

Dr. Conrad speaks candidly about limb sparing procedures for children with sarcomas, bone cancers, major challenges in reproducing growth, and how this can be accomplished mechanically, magnetically and even non-surgically. Dr. Conrad also speaks about the cure rate being higher for children under the age of 20 than for adults, with the average survival for a child with a high grade sarcoma at a 75 percent survival rate over the first five years. Hear more about high-grade tumors, risk factors for surgery and how research continues to improve long-term survival for sarcoma patients. Dr. Conrad talks about the importance of a multidisciplinary team and common overlaps between treating children and adults with sarcoma. Often, this team includes an oncologist, surgeon, pathologist, radiation therapist, and other surgical partners. Dr. Conrad discusses how success rates have increased to lower complication rates and how new and improved techniques for making limbs, still growth, and issues surrounding orthopedic care, are all on the research front.

Dr. Conrad sums up the discussion with one of the most important factors of all, clinical trials. In his own words: “Trials are absolutely critical. The children that we treat, about two thirds to three fourths of the children that we treat are on clinical trials, and it's because we all consider, there are smaller number of tumors so it's easier to focus on them. We all want our children to have the best treatment so they're more intensely evaluated than the average adult, despite our best efforts. But some adults have a negative reaction to clinical trials, and I would like to argue against being negative about trials because the trials allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of therapy, and they're absolutely critical for an unusual sarcoma type and for high grade sarcomas.”

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Andrew Schorr:

Sarcoma is a rare cancer, in children, usually found as cancer in the bones, in adults, more typically in the soft tissue. In either case it's serious, and you need to go to a specialized team. There is such a seam at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We'll hear from the head of that team coming up next on Patient Power.

Hello and welcome to Patient Power sponsored by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I'm Andrew Schorr. Several times we have talked with a true leader in the fight against sarcoma, and that is Dr. Earnest "Chappie" Conrad, who is the chairman of orthopedics at Seattle Children's Hospital. He's also director of the sarcoma service for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and he's co vice chairman of orthopedics at the University of Washington. Dr. Conrad has established over many years a very unique and internationally renowned center at Seattle Children's in helping children fight sarcoma and the research that can really move things along. We want to get an update from Dr. Conrad on, first of all, where are we now in the fight against sarcoma, different types in children, helping them grow, live and thrive. And also the overlap, if you will, with understanding and research of sarcoma in adults and how all of that works together and what's available for adults, teenagers, children affected by sarcoma who come for treatment here in Seattle. Dr. Conrad, thank you so much for being with us once again.

Dr. Conrad:

It's my pleasure.

Andrew Schorr:

Well, let's talk about one area which you really helped pioneer here, and that is limb sparing in children. So it used to be years ago where a child had bone cancer or sarcoma, and the limb was amputated. Where are we now in our efforts? How far have we come in helping not only the limb be saved but also in trying to help the child grow?


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