More than 5,300 people are now being diagnosed with sarcoma cancer every year in the UK.
Until now, the number of people being diagnosed was estimated at 3,800 people every year. New data shows that sarcoma is not as rare as we had thought.
The data, released as part of Sarcoma Awareness Week, is taken from the most recent sets of complete sarcoma data from all four UK nations. It is the first time in almost a decade that such information has been collated consistently.
Sarcoma is cancer of the bone and soft tissue which can develop anywhere in the body, making it one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose. Sarcoma makes up 1.3% of all UK cancers.The majority of people are diagnosed when their sarcoma is roughly the size of a baked bean tin.
Scientific understanding of sarcoma remains relatively modest compared to more common cancers such as breast or prostate. We are seeing more and more breakthroughs in sarcoma research in recent years but because there are more than 100 sub-types of the disease and low incidences in each sub-type, understanding the disease is a challenge.
Although survival rates have crept up incrementally in the last two decades, the outlook for people diagnosed with sarcoma remains challenging, with the five-year sarcoma survival rate at 55%.
Sarah McDonald, Acting Chief Executive of Sarcoma UK, said: “It’s time to take sarcoma seriously. For the first time in years, we have a fuller, more current picture of how sarcoma is affecting the UK population.
“We had suspected, based on the sheer numbers of people contacting Sarcoma UK for support and information every year, that the old figure of 3,800 diagnoses a year just wasn’t an accurate representation of what was really happening.
“We speak to people affected by this cancer every day and are very much aware the scale of destruction it is capable of. Although the breakthroughs in our knowledge of sarcoma are starting to come through, there’s clearly a long way to go in terms of fully understanding its behaviour, how it spreads and crucially how we develop better treatments for it in the future. This new data now gives us a solid baseline from which to monitor the disease over the coming years.”
Sarcoma Awareness Week runs 2-8 July 2018. Follow its progress through the hashtag #SarcomaIsCancer and get involved by changing your social media profile pics, raising the page, hosting a Big Picnic and more.