In his clinical practice, Dr. Jones provides care to patients of all ages with bone and soft-tissue sarcomas, performing surgery to remove the cancers and reconstruct the limbs or body wall.
|A young man developed this osteosarcoma in his distal femur (the thigh bone just above the knee). The aggressively destructive tumor is shown on the radiograph (far left) and MRI (middle left). A biopsy confirmed the diagnosis as shown in the photomicrograph (middle right). After about 3 months of chemotherapy, the tumor was removed and the knee reconstructed with a metallic implant (far right). Another nearly 6 months of chemotherapy complete the treatment of this cancer, followed by surveillance scans for at least a decade.|
While sarcoma is almost never cured without surgery, even the best surgery possible can only cure a portion of patients. Sarcomas are in desperate need of improved chemotherapy options to enable us to fight disease that has spread beyond the reach of the scalpel. To improve treatments, we need to understand better the biology of sarcoma.
Although rare in the population, sarcomas have been at the very center of cancer discovery. The first two major types of genetic drivers of cancer were both initially identified through investigation of sarcomas. Tumor suppressors, the genes that a developing cancer must shut down in order to continue growing out of control, were found in families that had a dangerous propensity to develop bone and soft-tissue sarcomas. Oncogenes, the genes whose activation enables a cancer cell to grow rapidly and ignore stop signals from the outside, were initially identified in a virus that caused sarcomas in chickens.
Sarcomas provide ideal model cancers for the study of oncogenesis, cancer initiation, or transformation because they do not derive from a person's behaviors or exposures as far as we can tell. One does not generally develop a sarcoma due to a history of smoking, eating too little broccoli, or avoiding exercise. Sarcomas just happen, apparently at random.
We cannot usually answer the "why" questions of sarcomagenesis, but through research we can pursue the "how" questions. In the Jones lab, we aggressively pursue an understanding of how sarcomas develop, seeking in this biology new targets for more effective treatments.