What is it that we do?
Oncology is the study of tumours. Tumours or cancer is the abnormal and uncontrolled proliferation or growth of cells in the body.
There are many different types of cancers depending on which type of cell is behaving badly. Carcinomas are cancers that come from cells that line the body, either on the outside or the inside. The medical term for these cells is epithelial cells. Much of our work is dealing with the spread of these cancers. Cancers such as breast, thyroid, kidney and prostate often metastasise to bone and can eat away at parts of the bone causing pain and even fractures. These bones either need to be fixed if fractured or replaced. Most of the time this is combined with radiotherapy to help control the cancer in that area.
Radiotherapy is essentially directing ionising radiation at an area of the body in a controlled way. This radiation energy helps to disrupt the normal multiplication of the cancer cells causing them to die.
Sarcoma's are cancers or tumours that arise from connective tissue cells. These cells live in bone, muscle, joints, fat and blood vessels to name a few.
The treatment of cancer is to use a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and drugs, such as chemotherapy. How much of each is dependent on the type of cancer and what stage it is at. These decisions are made in a multidisciplinary team meeting whose members include specialists in medical imaging, surgical oncologists and medical oncologists.
Chemotherapy is well known for its side effects which include; hair loss, fatigue, weight loss and nausea. It is usually given directly into the blood stream and can be given before and after surgery.
It is our job as orthopaedic (surgical) oncologists to remove the tumour with a cuff of normal tissue to ensure all the cancer is removed. Often when we do this it affects the function of the limb. It is our job to also reconstruct the limb as best as possible to both avoid amputation as well as get you back to near normal function as possible. We do this with a number of different methods. Most of the time this involves the replacement of a joint and replacement of the removed bone with a titanium endoprosthetic (internal prosthesis). Some examples are shown in the gallery above.