Soft tissue sarcoma
Soft Tissue Sarcoma is a highly specialised field and there are a few surgeons across the country who carry out this procedure I happen to be one of them and I have a great deal of experience and expertise in these matters and I have been doing this since 1995 based at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and the Spire Hospital in Manchester.
We are part of a multi disciplinary team and I am a lead sarcoma surgeon, we set up the multi disciplinary teams about ten years ago and this includes pathologists, radiologists, oncologists, physiotherapists, occupational specialists, surgeons including plastic surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons.
Several members of this team are world authorities in their field. I have performed over 500 of these sarcoma procedures over the last 14 years.
These procedures are not carried out at every centre but only by a handful of centres across the country and again only a handful of specialists.
It is very important for the long term success rate that these are done at specialist centres and not anywhere else. This would also include any suspicious lump over 5cm which should be dealt with by a specialist team. This is a common rule and there are several NICE guidelines in place to safe guard the long term interests of patients with soft tissue sarcomas which are cancers.
A sarcoma is a cancer in a muscle therefore has serious potential to cause damaged both in the short term and in the long term therefore patients not only require expert treatment early but they also require regular follow up and several repeated scans at these specialist centres, which are routinely carried out.
We have audited our results and our results match the best in the world long term survival rates are entirely dependant on adequate treatment at a highly specialised centre where all the facilities to treat these exist.
It is also vitally important to have the multi disciplinary team of specialist working together as otherwise X-rays and scan can be misinterpreted and the wrong treatment carried out. I would not recommend that these are dealt with at local surgeries or even local hospitals.
Some of the centres in the UK exist in London, Birmingham, and Manchester.
Apart from treating the physical problem which in itself is quite devastating patients have to put up with the impact of this diagnosis psychologically and do need a lot of help. Multi disciplinary team have access to all these other specialties that are required there are national patient groups that help each other and patient are encouraged to join.
Any suspicious lumps no matter what size should be referred to a specialist early and we do have the facilities to obtain scans and biopsies within a matter of a day or two if required. The treatment of cancers is now very topical and there are rules in place to ensure that the best specialists are treating these cancers in order to obtain the best results. There are still some patients that slip through the net where non specialist inadvertently takes out lumps. Sadly the longer term out come if this were to happen it is not as good studies confirm current rates are much higher if dealt with at a non specialists centre.