July is sarcoma awareness month.
Sarcoma is an umbrella term that describes over 50 types of cancers. All of which are rare with wide ranging patterns of behaviour and outcome. The rarity of sarcoma means that the diagnosis is often not considered when patients present with symptoms or concerns.
Sarcomas can arise anywhere in the body. A sarcoma should be considered for any lump or mass that is rapidly growing or located deep within the body tissues. For these tumours, it is best to make the diagnosis before removing the lump in order to identify whether it is sarcoma as early as possible and to tailor the treatment to the specific type of sarcoma. For this reason, patients should be referred to a specialist sarcoma service to make use of expertise in radiology, pathology as well as surgery, radiation and oncology.
In order to better understand these rare cancers and to ensure best outcomes for patients with sarcoma, strong collaboration is required between the various doctors treating sarcoma patients. I have been privileged to be a member of the board of the Australian Sarcoma Study Group (http://www.australiansarcomagroup.org) which is working to raise the profile of these rare cancers as well as to bring together the Australian sarcoma community and support sarcoma research. I have also become an active member of the Trans-Atlantic Retroperitoneal Sarcoma Working Group (TARPSWG) which uses the collective experience of doctors from around the world to better understand these diseases and to improve future treatments.
With increased community awareness and strong collaboration nationally and internationally, there is promise of improving treatments and outcomes for patients with sarcoma!