Thank you for contacting me about support for people with Sarcoma.
I recognise the devastating impact that Sarcoma can have on those affected by the condition and their carers.
In particular, it is concerning that patients with sarcoma consistently report poorer care experience compared to those with other cancer diagnoses in the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey.
Increased awareness of the signs and symptoms of Sarcoma is clearly vital to delivering earlier and more accurate diagnosis and improving outcomes from treatment.
While there are no specific plans for a national Sarcoma awareness campaign, NHS bodies have been promoting the “Help Us Help You” campaign to encourage people aged over 50 year old who are experiencing symptoms of sarcoma cancer - such as a lump, pain, abdominal discomfort and a cough – to contact their GP.
Sarcoma UK has highlighted the impact on sarcoma patients of diagnosis and treatment on their mental health and wellbeing. It is important that the NHS delivers against the Long Term Plan’s commitment that all patients diagnosed with cancer – including those with sarcoma - should receive a Personalised Care and Support Plan that evaluates their mental health needs.
I want to assure you that improving early diagnosis of cancer is a top priority for the NHS. It is crucial that children up and down the country have access to specialist services in cancer care, which are not necessarily provided in most hospitals, where traditionally cancer services are arranged by cancer type.
Children’s cancer services need to be contained in a small number of specialist units, which are referred to as principal treatment centres (PTCs). Each child with a suspected cancer should be referred directly to a PTC, which will make the diagnosis and direct provision of treatment. With sarcoma symptoms starting with limb pain, which is a common complaint in children, PTC
specialist services drive diagnosis and personalised treatment, ensuring that a child is correctly and accurately diagnosed.
Understanding the effect of cancers in children, PTCs are expert in offering psychosocial support, helping children to continue their education, and have begun to provide specialist play facilities seven days a week. I share the Government’s gratitude of charities such as Young Lives vs Cancer and the Teenage Cancer Trust, which last year put together guidance for young people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This useful guidance has been distributed by the NHS to all our cancer alliances in England.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.