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  Moores Cancer Center

UC San Diego Health's Moores Cancer Center is the region's only medical center recognized for specialty expertise in sarcomas by the Sarcoma Foundation of America and Sarcoma Alliance, highly respected patient advocacy groups. This means we have the familiarity and knowledge — and advanced technologies and approaches — to accurately diagnose and treat your disease.

  • High-volume referral center, with support services: We treat more people with sarcoma than any hospital system in San Diego, about 150 new cases each year. Studies show patient outcomes are better at high-volume centers such as ours. We encourage physician referrals and patient self-referrals to diagnose, stage and treat these rare tumors. 
  • U.S. News & World Report - UC San Diego Health Ranked Nationally in Cancer
  • Better doctors, more treatment options: Moores Cancer Center is the region's only federally recognized Comprehensive Cancer Center and is repeatedly ranked among the nation's best in cancer care by U.S. News & World Report. Our physician-researchers are working to find new treatments for sarcomas to help people live longer, better lives. Through their clinical trials and research studies, we offer more treatment options for all stages and types of bone and soft-tissue tumors.
  • A team of doctors for every patient: Sarcomas are rare and complex, with more than 60 tumor subtypes. Our patients benefit by having doctors, nurses and rehab specialists with expertise in sarcoma care.

San Diego's Best Sarcoma Care Doctors

Medical Oncology

Sarah Boles, MD

Surgical Oncology

Jason Sicklick, MD

Jula Veerapong, MD

Urologic Oncology

Ithaar Derweesh, MD

Head and Neck Surgery

Joseph Califano, MD

What Is Sarcoma?

Sarcoma is a type of cancer that starts in the body’s connective tissues. These are tissues that support or connect the body, like bones, nerves, and muscles. 

The main types of sarcoma include:

  • Soft-tissue sarcoma, which can start in the muscles, tendons, blood vessels, fat, nerves and deep skin tissues. These sarcomas can occur in any part of the body, but usually occur in the arms and legs.
  • Bone sarcoma, a type of bone cancer that often develops in the osteoblast cells that form bone. Osteosarcoma usually start in the leg or arm bones, too.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), a tumor of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, usually the stomach. These start in special cells that are part of the autonomic nervous system and coordinate the automatic movements of the GI tract.

San Diego's Only Sarcoma Treatment Center

The  Sarcoma Foundation of America and the Sarcoma Alliance recognize UC San Diego Health as a Sarcoma Treatment Center because we meet the standards needed to properly diagnose and treat your disease, including:

  • Highly specialized, multidisciplinary care: Your care team may include medical, radiation, surgical and orthopedic oncologists, a diagnostic radiologist and pathologist, as well as oncology nurses and rehabilitation specialists. All have expertise in sarcomas.
  • Molecular tumor board: Your doctors meet regularly to collaboratively review and discuss your response to treatment and care plan at tumor board meetings.
  • Advanced diagnostics: Because sarcomas are rare, they are often misdiagnosed or mistaken for another disease. We use MRI, and CT and PET scans to find precancerous and small tumors that are easy to miss. Imaging studies may also be used to estimate the tumor's size and density, and blood flow in and around the tumor. Most sarcomas can be diagnosed and staged through imaging and tumor biopsy.
  • Clinical trials and innovation: Our physician-scientists are pioneering new discoveries to improve treatment outcomes, survival and quality of life. Patients may be able to receive new sarcoma treatments through participation in a clinical trial.
  • High-volume center: Medical centers that treat 50 or more sarcoma cases a year are considered high-volume centers. We treat three times this, more than 150 cases a year. For our patients, this means we are experienced in even rare tumors. 
  • Leadership: Our physician-scientists are leaders in their fields who help set national treatment guidelines for sarcoma.

Support Services for Sarcoma Patients and Families

Our sarcoma care goes beyond providing you with the best available treatment options. We offer complementary therapies and services, such as:

Our psychosocial support team can help address the emotional challenges that may accompany a cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well. We also provide follow-up care, including a survivorship care plan.

Sarcoma Patient Education