South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth met with Sarcoma UK in the Scottish Parliament recently to discuss the work the charity is doing to improve the speed at which sarcoma cancer is diagnosed.
The local MSP is keen to support Sarcoma UK on improving sarcoma diagnosis in Scotland and helping give every single person with sarcoma the best chance of survival.
Sarcomas are uncommon cancers that can affect any part of the body, on the inside or outside, including the muscle, bone, tendons, blood vessels and fatty tissues. 15 people are diagnosed with sarcoma every day in the UK. That’s about 5300 people a year.
The later a sarcoma is diagnosed, the less likely someone is to survive. Sarcoma patients face hurdles at almost every stage of their diagnosis, from GP awareness, scanning, delays, and getting referred to a specialist centre. Initial diagnosis is often inaccurate and compared to other more common cancers, fewer treatment options are available. This means that currently only 55% of sarcoma patients live beyond five years.
It’s essential that if you have any of the signs and symptoms of sarcoma you contact your GP. These are:
- A lump which is growing, changing, or bigger than a golf ball
- Swelling, tenderness or pain in or around the bone which may come and go and may be worse at night
- Stomach pain, feeling sick, loss of appetite or feeling full after eating only a small amount of food
- Blood in either your poo or vomit
Colin met with Alasdair Punton during the visit, whose wife Becky was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in February 2019. She endured 6 months of chemotherapy and major surgery to remove the tumour, but despite the incredible efforts of her team at The Beatson WSCC and Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the cancer reoccurred, and she passed away in October 2019 aged 28 [ Alasdair Punton is fundraising for Sarcoma UK (justgiving.com)].
Colin Smyth said: “It’s unbelievable that only 25 per cent of people know what sarcoma is, and I’m proud to work with Sarcoma UK to help spread awareness of this rare cancer.
“It is also clear to see that more needs to be done to improve the speed and accuracy at which sarcoma is diagnosed so that patients in Scotland have the best possible chance of survival.
“It’s great to see this charity raising public awareness about sarcoma and its symptoms, while funding vital research into better treatments and supporting patients and loved ones through their Sarcoma UK Support Line.”
Richard Davidson, CEO of Sarcoma UK, said: “Early diagnosis is one of the key drivers for improving survival, and through discussions with supporters and clinicians, academic research and survey results, we have so far found three key challenges to diagnosis: public awareness, healthcare professional awareness, and the diagnostic pathway.
“Sarcoma UK welcomes the support Colin Smyth in boosting public awareness of sarcoma and putting early diagnosis on the agenda in Scotland.”