Sarcoma Awareness Month – do you know what to look for?

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Thursday, July 28th, 2016
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July is Sarcoma Cancer Awareness Month, so the Public Health Agency (PHA) is highlighting the key signs and symptoms of sarcoma cancer and is urging people to talk to their GP if they think something is wrong. phaSarcomas are rare malignant tumours that arise from transformed cells of the connective tissues such as muscle, fat, cartilage or bone. Around 8 out of 10 sarcomas occur in soft tissue although they can affect any part of the body. Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said, “There were 102 cases of sarcoma diagnosed in Northern Ireland in 2014. Cancers of the bone and connective tissue (sarcomas) are rare, but they can arise in any part of the body and there are many different types. “The earlier a cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat it and the more likely the treatment is to be successful. We know that teenagers and young adults do not often develop cancer but bone sarcomas can affect this age group and therefore it is worth knowing a few of the possible signs of a bone sarcoma.” These may include: • increasing, unexplained or persistent bone pain or tenderness, particularly pain at rest (and especially if not in the joint); • swelling over the affected part; • reduced movement; • if the cancer is near a joint, this can make it more difficult to move the joint and it can affect the movement of the whole limb; • if the affected bone is in the leg, it may cause a limp; • if the tumour is in the spine, it may press on nerves, causing weakness or numbness and tingling in the limbs; • broken bone (bone cancer is sometimes discovered when a bone that has been weakened by cancer breaks spontaneously or after a minor fall or accident).
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July 2016Dr McCarthy continued, “If you do experience these symptoms it is best to seek advice from your GP. With advances in treatment and care over recent years there is often a lot that can be done to tackle cancer when it appears, but early detection and treatment are essential. “It is important to know your own body, look out for any changes and speak to your doctor if something isn’t right,” she added.

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