Home  /  News  /  Medical Education  /  Cancer

Dr. Francis Hornicek Lectures at Musculoskeletal Oncology Conference in Padova, Italy

Francis Hornicek, M.D., Ph.D., director of orthopaedic oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, recently lectured and moderated several sessions at the international Musculoskeletal Oncology Course held at the University of Padova in Italy.

Francis Hornicek, M.D., Ph.D.
Francis Hornicek, M.D., Ph.D.

A widely renowned clinician, researcher, and educator, Dr. Hornicek lectured on surgery of sacral tumors and the diagnosis and treatment of malignant soft tissue tumors.

“Padova brings together specialists from all over Europe, as well as from Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America,” said Dr. Hornicek, who recently was named president of the International Society of Limb Salvage (ISOLS), a post he will hold until 2024. “Attending these conferences enhances Miami’s international reputation.”

Unique Skill Set, New Surgical Techniques

In addition to his core work at Sylvester, Dr. Hornicek attends and presents at a range of professional meetings as an international specialist in orthopaedic oncology. As president of ISOLS, his engagement has increased.

“I’m able to travel the world because what I do is unique, and I have taught new surgical techniques with excellent results,” Dr. Hornicek said. He pointed out that the incidence of musculoskeletal cancers is relatively low compared to the most common types: breast, colorectal, lung, prostate, and skin cancers.

Image of the University of Padova at night.
The conference was organized by the University of Padova Department of Orthopedics and Orthopedic Oncology in cooperation with other academic centers.

“Millions of people have primary bone tumors, but benign tumors outnumber malignant 10,000 to one,” he said. “Primary bone sarcomas are rare.”

Since musculoskeletal cancers represent such a small percentage of cancers overall, centers like Sylvester are important, Dr. Hornicek said, because they offer specialized treatment unavailable in most regions and have helped reduce mortality rates for malignancies in recent years.

Also attending the Padova conference was Douglas Letson, M.D., a sarcoma specialist, executive vice president of clinical affairs, and physician-in-chief at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. “The idea is to work together, not compete,” Dr. Hornicek said.

Promising Treatment Approaches

One promising approach to treating cancer is immunotherapy, Dr. Hornicek said. “Immunotherapy was not appreciated at first, but it has changed the whole way of thinking about how we manage cancer patients” over the past decade, he said. “But you may want to start immunotherapy up front, before high-dose standard chemotherapy.”

Managing the immune system to combat cancer is often not as toxic as traditional, standard high-dose therapy for sarcomas, which kills normal immune cells around the cancer as it seeks to destroy malignant tumor cells. Immunotherapy is based on the body’s own immune system, on stimulating recognition of tumor antigens and attacking cancer cells that otherwise are hidden, or “cold.”

Dr. Hornicek has written a wide range of academic studies on surgical techniques, high-dose, proton-based radiation, the molecular biology of sarcomas, and other topics in orthopaedic oncology. The National Institutes of Health, private firms, and charitable organizations have provided funding for his research. Recently, Dr. Hornicek, Pratim Biswas, Ph.D., dean of the University of Miami College of Engineering, and their colleagues applied for a research grant covering the use of novel nanoparticles to deliver drugs to tumors for imaging and chemotherapy.

The Padova conference, the fifth held to date, was organized by the University of Padova Department of Orthopedics and Orthopedic Oncology in cooperation with other academic centers. The meeting of international specialists “is aimed to offer a review and update of the knowledge in musculoskeletal oncology and more specifically to provide basic information on clinical features, imaging, pathology and principles of treatment of the bone and soft tissues tumors and pseudo-tumoral lesions,” according to the organizers.

Tags: Department of Orthopaedics, Dr. Francis Hornicek, International Society of Limb Salvage, Miller School of Medicine, orthopaedic oncology, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Padova