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Referral to a specialist

There are guidelines to help your GP decide about whether you should have a referral to a specialist if you have symptoms of a soft tissue sarcoma. Find out more.

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist within 2 weeks if you have symptoms that could be due to soft tissue sarcoma. This is called an urgent referral.

Seeing your GP

The symptoms of a sarcoma can be similar to many other medical conditions. It can be very difficult for GPs to decide who may have a suspected cancer and who may have something much more minor that will go away on its own. 

There are particular symptoms that are more likely to be due to a cancer. If you have these symptoms your GP should refer you to a specialist straight away. If you have other symptoms you may not need an urgent referral but your GP may still refer you to a specialist for further investigation of your problems. The appointment may then take a few weeks or months.

UK referral guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) produce guidelines for GPs in the UK. The guidelines help them decide who needs an urgent referral.

Guidelines for urgent referral

According to the NICE guidelines, you should get an appointment within 2 weeks for an urgent referral. The guidelines say that your GP should arrange an urgent referral for an ultrasound scan if you have an unexplained lump that is increasing in size.

You should be referred to a specialist within 2 weeks if the results of the scan look like you might have a soft tissue sarcoma.

Guidelines for young adults and children

Children aged 0-15 or a young person aged 16-24 with an unexplained lump that is increasing in size should be referred for an urgent ultrasound scan within 2 days. If the results of the scan are concerning or look like you may have a sarcoma, then you should be referred to a specialist within 2 days.

Being cared for by a multidisciplinary team

NHS guidelines state that everyone with sarcoma should be under the care of a multi disciplinary team (MDT). This is a team of health professionals who work together to decide on the best way to care for you. And the guidelines recommend that people with sarcoma or fibromatosis should be referred for diagnosis and management to a hospital that specialises in treating sarcoma.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.