Sarcoma is a rare cancer that develops in the cells of the tissues surrounding your organs. This tissue is known as connective tissue.
There are many different types of sarcoma. It is useful to divide them into bone sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas, which includes fat, muscles, blood vessels, deep skin tissues, nerves, tendons, ligaments and the tissues around your joints.
Types of soft tissue sarcoma include:
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST): Most GISTs begin in your stomach or small bowel, but they can occur anywhere along your digestive tract.
- Leiomyosarcoma: This develops in smooth muscle cells, including your womb, stomach, intestines and blood vessels. These are muscles we do not have control over.
- Fibrosarcoma: This develops in the cells of fibrous tissue, which is commonly found in your arms and legs but can grow in any part of your body.
- Liposarcoma: This develops in fatty tissue and can grow anywhere in your body. It often appears as soft lumps.
- Angiosarcoma: This develops in the cells that make up the wall of blood or lymphatic vessels of your body. Sarcoma in the lymphatic vessels is called lymphangiosarcoma.
- Synovial sarcoma: This develops in the joints and tendons around your knee. It often appears as hard lumps.
- Rhabdomyosarcoma: This develops from the skeletal muscle cells you have control of, including your arms and legs.
- Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour: This develops in the cells that cover the nerves in your body.
- Kaposi’s sarcoma: This develops in skin cells, but is also found in internal organs, the mouth, lymph nodes, lung, liver and spleen.
- Ewing’s sarcoma: This develops in your bones or the tissue around your bones.
If your GP suspects you may have a sarcoma, they will refer you to a Trust hospital.
All bone sarcoma patients are managed through Musgrave Park Hospital.
Arm and leg soft tissue sarcoma patients will be referred to Musgrave Park Hospital or the Ulster Hospital (South Eastern Trust).
- Investigations and diagnosis
Sarcoma Cancer Committee
To ensure the best possible treatment for patients, a group of clinicians and specialists known as the Sarcoma Cancer Committee meets every month to discuss your diagnosis and treatment.
The committee reviews all patients’ investigations and test results to ensure the best treatment plans are agreed.
A copy of any discussions will be sent to the patient’s GP.
There are a range of treatments for soft tissue sarcomas.
The treatment you receive will be specific to your circumstances and discussed with you in detail.
You will be asked to sign a consent form before treatment. No medical treatment can be given without patient consent.
It is important that you read and understand this form before signing it.
Following your treatment, you will be asked to come back to the hospital for review appointments with a specialist.
These review appointments allow us to check the progress of your recovery. They are also an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns you may have.
If you have any problems or notice any new symptoms in between review appointments, contact your consultant, surgeon, oncologist or GP.
- Macmillan information on sarcoma
- Macmillan information on soft tissue sarcoma
- Macmillan information on bone sarcoma
- Cancer Research UK information on soft tissue sarcoma
- Cancer Research UK information on bone sarcoma
- NI Direct information on soft tissue sarcoma
- NI Direct information on bone sarcoma
- Sarcoma UK
- Ewing’s Sarcoma Research Trust