Sarcoma is a type of cancer which is rare in humans.
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We are the regional centre for STS diagnosis and treatment in Merseyside and North Cheshire.
Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) is a rare cancer that affects supportive tissues like muscles, nerves and fat. If you come to the hospital you can expect:
Your doctor (GP) will send you to hospital for further investigations if you have a lump that may be a soft tissue sarcoma. Alternatively, you may be referred from another hospital. We will see you within two weeks of getting the doctor’s referral.
Soft tissue sarcoma clinic
After talking to you and examining the lump, we’ll organise a series of tests to determine the likelihood of you having a sarcoma. We use two main types of tests to look for sarcomas: imaging studies and biopsies.
Imaging is the use of machines to capture pictures of inside the body. Ultrasound, and MRI scans are the most commonly used forms of medical imaging. The results of your clinical examination helps us decide what imaging technique(s) to use.
The scans will be performed within two weeks of your first visit to the sarcoma clinic. You may then require a biopsy, depending on the results.
This is when the doctor takes samples of tissue from the lump. The cells are then passed to a pathologist (tissue expert) for examination under a microscope.
Patients with suspected sarcoma usually have a needle biopsy of their lump. This is done using local anaesthetic to numb the skin before the needle is inserted. If the lump is deep within the body, an ultrasound scan or a CT scan can be used to make sure that the needle is in the lump.
This is performed when needle biopsy fails to get enough cells for diagnosis. The doctor uses a scalpel (surgical knife) to make an incision (cut) in the tissue. A local or general anaesthetic is used, depending on the location of the lump.
The pathologist processes the tissue and examines the cells. Further tests may be required to define exactly what sort of cancer is present. This is essential to make sure that the best treatment is offered to each patient.
The results from most biopsies (pathology report) are available within one week of the biopsy. Occasionally, specialised tests take longer to complete. If the lump turns out to be cancer, soft tissue sarcoma treatment options will be discussed with you.
Many patients find that they don’t have cancer after investigation. Most are referred back to their GP or to another surgeon for treatment. Some patients will continue treatment with the sarcoma service.
Your test results are discussed by the multi-disciplinary team (MDT). This is a team of doctors and health professionals who specialise in different aspects of treating sarcoma.
The Multi Disciplinary Team give advice on treatment options that would benefit you the most. Of course, you have the final decision about the type of treatment you receive.
Treatment starts as soon as possible after the cancer is discovered. You are assigned a specialist nurse who stays with you every step of your treatment journey. The nurse is your key-worker and is available to answer any questions you may have along the way. The nurse also acts as your point of contact with the MDT.
Members of the MDT include: