The Department of Sarcoma, Melanoma, and Rare tumor Surgery deals with neoplastic pathologies that can be treated surgically. The team performs 380 surgeries and treats 1500 patients annually.
The Department’s focus areas include sarcoma and melanoma surgery, endocrine surgery, surgery of the peritoneum, as well as complex digestive system surgery. The Department collaborates with Humanitas Oncology and Radiotherapy departments to provide its patients beneficial pre- and post-operative treatment.
Sarcomas are malignant tumors of the connective tissue and the bone that can arise in any part of the body (retroperitoneum, limbs, and trunk). Sarcomas are a relatively rare condition, whose treatment requires both highly specialized surgical skills and a collaborative multidisciplinary approach for integrated patient assessment. The experience gained on a wide range of cases makes the Department one of the major national and international surgical referral centers for this type of malignancy. Often, due to the site where these tumors originate and develop, it is necessary to intervene in tandem with specialists from other disciplines (plastic, vascular, thoracic surgery) with the goal of radically treating the tumor and preserving, at the same time, the greatest possible functionality of the affected area. The close collaboration between the team and Humanitas Neurosurgery department allows the specialists to treat lumbar-sacral paravertebral tumors in a multidisciplinary and technologically advanced way. Similarly, continuous collaboration with the Oncological Orthopedics department of the Orthopedic Institute “G. Pini “allows the team to manage extremely delicate pathological conditions, such as primitive bone tumors that require complex pelvis resections.
In the field of digestive and abdominal pathology, the Department has demonstrated considerable experience in the treatment of peritoneum tumors, gastric tumors, advanced abdominal and pelvic neoplasms with multi-organ involvement and Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST). The Department also includes the Peritoneum Malignant Tumor Program, focused on the treatment of primary (mesothelioma, pseudomyxomas) and metastatic (from colorectal cancer, ovaries) tumors of the peritoneum; the treatment of these pathologies requires long and complex surgical interventions that in many cases involve simultaneous removal of multiple organs and includes, where necessary, intraoperative intraabdominal perfusion of chemotherapy drugs at high temperatures (chemo-hyperthermia).
Another pathology that the Department focuses on is melanoma, for which the team performs the entire range of operations, based on the stage of the disease radicalization, sentinel lymph node biopsy, axillary and inguinal-iliac-obturator lymphadenectomy, metastasectomies. For each patient with melanoma, a multidisciplinary team, involving specialists from Humanitas departments of Oncology, Dermatology, and Plastic surgery, decides on the appropriate personalised treatment.
The Department also performs thyroid and parathyroid surgery, applying minimally invasive techniques, such as intraoperative determination of PTH and intraoperative monitoring of the recurrent laryngeal nerve for the early recognition of functional alterations of the vocal cords, minimizing thus the risk of post-operative dysphonia. In collaboration with the Department of Interventional Radiology, the team also carries out thermoablation of thyroid nodules and lymph node metastases, for which there is otherwise no treatment. The experience gained in the field of pre-operative patient management and thyroid surgery allows, when possible, to perform thyroid surgery in the Day Surgery setting, that is, admitting, operating, and discharging the patient on the same day.
In collaboration with the Department of Anesthesia, the team has developed protocols for the reduction of post-operative nausea and vomiting, thanks to the use of acupuncture and natural medicine techniques.
The Department strives to implement fast track pre-operative protocols. These protocols aim to reduce patient stress through lowering postoperative pain and fasting times, as well as through early mobilization and reduced length of hospital stay.
In the domain of clinical research, the Department continuously produces peer-reviewed publications, focused in particular on the surgical treatment of sarcomas and gastric tumors, as well as peritoneum and thyroid surgery, as demonstrated by the numerous publications in international scientific journals. Furthermore, research integrated into clinical practice allows patients to participate in international multi-center experimental treatment protocols. The specialists also pay particular attention to the bio-molecular aspects of malignancies through scientific collaboration with various basic and translational research groups.
The Department of Sarcoma, Melanoma, and Rare tumor Surgery is also a member of the Italian Sarcomas Group (ISG), of the Trans-Atlantic Retroperitoneal Sarcoma Working Group (TARPSWG), of the Italian Group for Gastric Cancer Research (GIRCG), of the Inter-group Italian Melanoma (IMI) and the Club of Endocrine Surgery Units (UEC), clinical-scientific groups that bring together main specialized hubs in the respective areas.
Finally, the Department specialists teach at the Faculty of Medicine of Humanitas University and the International Medical School of the University of Milan, as well as at the General Surgery Specialization Schools of the same universities.