Should I see a sarcoma specialist? | Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Should I see a sarcoma specialist?

Men and woman discussing soft tissue sarcomas

This page tells you about the UK guidelines that GPs have to help them decide whether you need to see a specialist urgently for suspected soft tissue sarcoma. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Should I see a soft tissue sarcoma specialist?

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. The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines for GPs to help them decide which patients need to be seen urgently by a specialist. Not all symptoms need an urgent referral but your GP may still refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

Guidelines for urgent referral

The NICE guidelines say that your GP should arrange an urgent referral for an ultrasound scan, within 2 weeks if you have a lump that is increasing in size. If the results of the ultrasound scan look like you might have a sarcoma or are unusual, then your GP should refer you urgently, within 2 weeks to see a specialist. 

If you are a child aged 0-15 or a young person aged 16-24, with a lump that is increasing in size, then your GP should refer you within 2 days for an ultrasound scan. If the results of the scan appear unusual or look like you might have a soft tissue sarcoma, then your GP should refer you to a specialist within 2 days. 

If you are concerned that your GP is not taking your symptoms as seriously as you think they should, you could print this page and take it along to an appointment.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the About soft tissue sarcoma section.

 

 

What a sarcoma is

A soft tissue sarcoma is a cancer of the soft tissues of the body – for example, muscle tissue, fat tissues or the tissues that make the blood vessels. These types of cancer are quite rare.

 

About UK guidelines

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. With many symptoms, it is perfectly right that your GP should ask you to wait to see if they get better or respond to treatment such as antibiotics. If GPs referred everyone who came to see them to a specialist immediately, the system would get jammed. Then people needing urgent appointments wouldn't be able to get them.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines for GPs in England and Wales to help them decide which patients need to be seen urgently by a specialist. In Scotland, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Executive has produced guidelines for urgent referral for GPs there. 

Seeing a specialist

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.

 

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

If you are a child aged 0-15 or a young person aged 16-24 with an unexplained lump that is increasing in size, you 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.

 

If you are still worried

If you are concerned that your GP is not taking your symptoms as seriously as you think they should, you could print this page and take it along to an appointment. Ask your GP to talk it through with you. Then you may be able to decide together whether you need to see a specialist and if so, how soon.

 

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.

Rate this page:
Submit rating

 

Rated 4 out of 5 based on 17 votes
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

No Error

Updated: 7 July 2015