Your referral explained | Sarcoma UK

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Your referral explained

If you have been referred to a sarcoma specialist centre to investigate your symptoms, you may have questions.

A referral to a specialist sarcoma team is important to get the right diagnosis.

What is sarcoma?

Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the connective tissues – muscle, bone, nerves, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels and the fatty and fibrous tissues. They can occur anywhere in
the body.

Does this mean I have sarcoma?

Most lumps and bumps are benign, this means they are not cancer. 8 out of 10 people referred to a sarcoma specialist centre do not have a sarcoma.

It’s more common to have:

  • A lipoma – a lump made up of fatty tissue
  • A skin cyst – a lump filled with fluid

It can be hard to tell a lipoma or cyst from something more serious. An expert sarcoma
team can make the right diagnosis so you get the care you need.

Investigations and tests

A specialist team may use different tests and scans to see if you have sarcoma

  • X ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Physical examination
  • Computer Tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • A core needle biopsy

Waiting for results

It can take a few weeks for your results to come through.

Your scans and test results are looked at and then discussed by a team of experts called a
multidisciplinary team or MDT. This MDT will work out your diagnosis. Only then will you get your results.

We understand this can be an anxious time, to help you can:

  • Ask your doctor or specialist nurse for an idea of how long your test results are likely to take
  • Contact your GP if your symptoms get worse or if you are worried about anything
  • Speak to Sarcoma UK’s Support Line

What will my results tell me?

If you don’t have a sarcoma you will be discharged from the sarcoma specialist centre.

If your symptoms begin to change or become painful you can go back to your GP
for advice.

If you do have a sarcoma the sarcoma specialist team will ensure you get the right treatment and care. Some benign tumours, like desmoid fibromatosis and giant cell tumours of the bone, are also treated by sarcoma teams.

Your team will include:

  • Oncologist (cancer doctor)
  • Surgeon
  • Radiologist
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

If you have questions about sarcoma speak to your clinical nurse specialist or contact
Sarcoma UK’s Support Line

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