Researchers at the University of Nottingham and national cancer charity Sarcoma UK have teamed up to launch a new online resource to help physiotherapists identify the signs and symptoms of sarcoma.
The resource will also help physiotherapists to appropriately refer their clients to a general practitioner (GP) or provide them with the necessary information to seek medical attention themselves.
Sarcoma cancers can occur anywhere in the body and catching sarcoma at an early stage also means that the cancer is less likely to have spread, and this increases the person’s chances of survival.
In September 2020, Sarcoma UK launched their landmark report Delays Cost Lives, which showed that almost one in three (30%) of patients wait at least six months after first consulting a healthcare professional before receiving an accurate diagnosis for their sarcoma.
Sarcoma patients also described how, due to late diagnosis or misdiagnosis, they may blame themselves for not noticing symptoms or pushing a healthcare professional further. Sadly, some family members also see these delays in diagnosis as a possible difference between life and death.
Alongside experts at Sarcoma UK, the Health E-Learning and Media (HELM) team from School of Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, are working to change the story for sarcoma patients, and this partnership is one of the first steps on this journey.
Kirsty Hyndes, Associate Professor in Physiotherapy at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘Physiotherapists are rapidly becoming the first point of contact for a number of sarcoma patients, particularly as so many people with sarcoma cancer are referred to them for supposed sporting injuries and muscle pain.
‘It is important to note that some patients may receive incorrect reassurance from GPs regarding their symptoms not being indicative of a potential sarcoma. This training module will teach physiotherapists how to recognise and rectify such errors by GPs, ensuring proper care for the patients.
‘This new e-learning module for physiotherapists recognises the vital role physiotherapists play in sarcoma cancer diagnosis and referring patients to further treatment.’
Richard Davidson, Chief Executive at Sarcoma UK, said: ‘Our research shows that physiotherapists are likely to come across sarcoma as there are common symptoms which make many sub-types easier to identify. The latest National Sarcoma Survey found that 34% of patients found a painless lump, and 26% had a lump that was increasing in size.
‘We want this online resource to be a core part of physiotherapy training across the UK and to promote the resource as an easily accessible tool for physiotherapists to identify the signs and symptoms of sarcoma cancer, to appropriately refer their clients to a GP, and to provide clients with the necessary information to seek medical attention themselves.’
The training module, The importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of sarcoma’ can be accessed here.