Our grateful thanks to Sarcoma UK for their input to our 'on-air' report (which you can hear again via the audio player at the botttom of this page) and for allowing us to reproduce thE support information below supplemented with input from the NHS Direct website.
For more detailed information, help and support click here to visit the Sarcoma UK website - their support line 08088010401 is available from 10am - 3pm Monday to Friday.
Never heard of Sarcoma? You are not alone ! As we reported, awareness of sarcoma is low in the UK. According to a recent YouGov poll three quarters (75%) of people in the UK do not know or are not sure what sarcoma is. Even for those who have heard of sarcoma understanding of its symptoms is poor. Nearly a third (29%) had no idea of what the symptoms of sarcoma are and less than half could identify the key symptoms of a painful lump growing in size (47%) and bone pain (46%).
Sarcomas are uncommon cancers that can affect any part of the body, on the inside or outside, including the muscle, bone, tendons, blood vessels and fatty tissues.
Sarcomas commonly affect the arms, legs and trunk. They also appear in the stomach and intestines as well as behind the abdomen (retroperitoneal sarcomas) and the female reproductive system (gynaecological sarcomas).
Bone sarcomas affect about 611 people in the UK each year - 1 in 9 sarcoma diagnoses are bone sarcoma. Not all bone cancers will be sarcomas.
Signs and symptoms of bone cancer. According to NHS Direct Bone cancer can affect any bone, but most cases develop in the long bones of the legs or upper arms. In most cases, it's not known why a person develops bone cancer.
The main symptoms include:
If you or your child are experiencing persistent, severe or worsening bone pain, visit your GP. While it's highly unlikely to be the result of bone cancer, it does require further investigation.
Some of the main types of bone cancer are:
Young people can be affected because the rapid growth spurts that occur during puberty may make bone tumours develop.
The above types of bone cancer affect different types of cell. The treatment and outlook will depend on the type of bone cancer the patient has .
Soft tissue sarcomas are the most common type of sarcoma, around 88% of sarcomas are a type of soft tissue sarcoma.
They can affect any part of the body; they develop in supporting or connective tissue such as the muscle, nerves, fatty tissue, and blood vessels.
According to NHS Direct Soft tissue sarcomas often have no obvious symptoms in the early stages.
They can cause symptoms as they get bigger or spread. The symptoms depend on where the cancer develops. For example:
Types of soft tissue sarcoma. There are many different types of soft tissue sarcoma, depending on where in the body it develops. Examples include:
Causes of soft tissue sarcomas. In most cases there are no obvious reasons why a soft tissue sarcoma develops, but there are a number of things known to increase the risk, including:
More research needs to be done to fully understand how these cancers develop and spread and how best to diagnose and treat them.
Diagnosing soft tissue sarcomas. According to NHS Direct if your GP feels there's a possibility you have soft tissue sarcoma, they'll refer you for a number of tests.
If a diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma is confirmed, these and further tests will also help determine how likely the cancer is to spread (known as the "grade"), and whether or how far the cancer has spread (known as the "stage").
People can survive sarcoma if their cancer is diagnosed early, when treatments can be effective and before the sarcoma has spread to other parts of the body. It is vital that patients be referred to a specialist sarcoma team as early as possible.
Sarcoma facts and figures
Listen to this weeks radio report
All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.