Screening for soft tissue sarcoma

Screening aims to find a cancer early. No national screening is available for soft tissue sarcoma.

What is screening?

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease. This is before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

No screening available

There is no national screening programme for soft tissue sarcoma because:

  • this condition is very rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

If you think you are at high risk

Previous radiotherapy 

People who have had radiotherapy are known to have a slightly increased risk of getting a sarcoma in the part of the body that was treated. Your specialist will be aware of this and keeping an eye out for symptoms. Talk to your specialist at one of your check ups if you are worried.

Inherited cancer genes

Some faulty genes that increase the risk of cancer can be passed on from parent to child. These are called inherited cancer genes. This occurs when there is a mistake or a fault in the genes in an egg or sperm cell. Then the gene fault can be passed on to children. Genes that increase the risk of cancer are called cancer susceptibility genes.

Some cancer susceptibility genes have been linked to some specific types of soft tissue sarcoma. 

You might have regular monitoring for cancers if you have:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome 
  • neurofibromatosis
  • retinoblastoma

Researchers are still trying to work out how best to screen those people at high risk for soft tissue sarcoma. Some studies looked at using whole body MRI, but this is not standard practice in the UK.

Talk to your doctor if you think you are at high risk of soft tissue sarcoma.

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