Have you heard of sarcoma? Could you spot the symptoms? According to a YouGov poll conducted in April 2020, 75 per cent of people in the UK are unsure exactly what sarcoma is. And even amongst those who did know, less than half could identify the key symptoms.
The charity, Sarcoma UK, wants to change that and raise awareness of sarcoma in the UK.
What is sarcoma?
Sarcoma is a relatively uncommon form of cancer – about 15 people per day get diagnosed with sarcoma in the UK.
Sarcomas can affect either bone or soft tissue and can occur on any part of the body. They are most common on the arms, legs and trunk.
How to recognise a sarcoma
There are two main types of sarcoma, and the signs and symptoms are different for each:
Soft tissue sarcoma
These can appear in any soft tissue – fat, blood vessels, muscles, cartilage, tendons or ligaments.
Depending on how deep in the body the sarcoma is, a soft tissue sarcoma may not present with symptoms to begin with. The first sign is usually a swelling or lump in the affected area. This could be painless, or may have some pain associated with it.
Unlike other cancers, which start elsewhere and spread to the bones at a later stage, bone sarcoma originates in the bone. Usually, the first sign is pain in the affected bone – often the longer bones of the arms or legs.
Early diagnosis is key to treating sarcoma. Once sarcoma has been diagnosed, referral to a specialist treatment team needs to happen as quickly as possible. The good news is that survival rates for sarcoma are improving in the UK. The reason for this is rapid diagnosis and specialist treatment.
Sarcoma can be difficult to diagnose, so a series of different tests is often needed to verify the diagnosis. These can include:
- Clinical examination – assessing any external signs
- Scans – to see what is happening inside the body
- Biopsy – removing part of the suspected sarcoma for analysis
- Bone scan – for bone sarcomas
It is vital if you have concerns about sarcoma that you see a doctor with the knowledge and capacity to diagnose you and provide referral to a specialist quickly.
Here at The Mayfair GP, we have access to state-of-the-art health screening equipment. We have links to some of the top specialists in the country, meaning we can get you the treatment you need, quickly.
For more information about sarcoma, visit the Sarcoma UK website.