Early diagnosis and the latest management techniques in bone and soft tissue sarcoma were the focus of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Sarcoma Awareness Day symposium, held on Wednesday at Hajar Auditorium.
“Every year thousands of people around the world are diagnosed with sarcoma with approximately 50 new cases being diagnosed in Qatar each year here at HMC. These cases are managed by a dedicated multidisciplinary team of expert doctors and nurses led by the Orthopaedic Oncology team at both Hamad General Hospital and the Bone and Joint Center,” said Dr Mohamed al-Ateeq al-Dosari, senior consultant and head of the Orthopaedic Surgery Department at Hamad General Hospital.
Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that can affect any part of the body but most commonly occurs in the bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, nerves, fat, and blood vessels in the arms or legs. There are around one hundred different sub-types of sarcoma.
Dr al-Dosari who is also director of HMC’s Bone and Joint Center said the symptoms of bone sarcoma can vary depending on the size and location of the tumour.
The most common symptoms of bone and soft tissue sarcoma include bone pain, a mass or swelling, and restricted movement in a joint. Dr Ahmed Mounir, senior consultant orthopaedic surgery and clinical lead of the Sarcoma Service at Hamad General Hospital noted that the symptoms of bone sarcoma can sometimes be confused with a sports injury or with growing pains in children and young people.
“Unfortunately, in its early stages, patients with sarcoma usually do not have any worrisome symptoms, or they have vague symptoms that mimic other non-cancerous conditions such as lipoma, a cyst, or sports injuries.”
“The absence of early and accurate diagnosis will lead to either delay in treatment or the disease being incorrectly treated. This can often result in an unfavourable prognosis so it is extremely important for individuals who have an unexplained, persistent lump, even if it is painless, to seek medical advice. This is especially important in cases where there is a progressive increase in the size of a previously stationary lump, a new occurrence of pain in an existing lump, or unexplained bone and/or joint pain,” noted Dr Mounir.
Dr Mounir added that patients who are suspected to have bone sarcoma will now receive an urgent referral, within 48 hours, to the Bone and Joint Center. He said the new urgent referral pathway is the first disease-specific electronic referral system at HMC for suspected cancer cases.
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