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26 June 2012

Size Matters for Sarcomas!

Early diagnosis of sarcoma is key!

One of the key factors that influences whether a soft tissue sarcoma can be successfully treated is the size of the tumour at diagnosis. The larger the tumour, the more difficult it is to treat and the lower the chance of getting a cure. Average survival is 50% at 5 years. Patients have a greater chance of living longer if the size of tumour is smaller at diagnosis - on average every centimetre increase in size at time of diagnosis reduces the chance of cure by 3-4%. So, early diagnosis of sarcoma is vital and a big part of identification falls on GPs to suspect a lump or bump and make a correct and early referral to a specialist sarcoma diagnostic centre.  


What’s the problem?

Sarcoma patients report at least three visits to their doctor before getting referred for further investigations, and even then, many patients are not referred to a sarcoma specialist centre.


Key facts:  

  • The current average size of soft tissue sarcomas at diagnosis is 100mm.

If soft tissue sarcomas can be diagnosed when <50mm, cure rates would improve by at least 20%!

A golf ball is 42mm.  


The project

The concept for the campaign came from Mr Rob Grimer, leading sarcoma surgeon at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. Mr Grimer has long been campaigning to improve awareness and early diagnosis of sarcoma by using the concept of a golf ball as a trigger for patients and GPs to seek referrals.


Here is Mr Grimer talking about the project:




A golf ball with the words “Is it sarcoma?” will be sent to over 600 GPs in Birmingham in early June 2012.

A poster of key sarcoma facts and details of how to refer to the ROH’s Specialist Sarcoma Centre will be sent with the golf ball.

Referrals to the ROH will be monitored over 12 months.

An evaluation will be carried out after one year, to assess the success of the pilot.

Proposals for wider roll out including national will be developed based on findings of the pilot.


Key measures of success  

The average size of soft tissue sarcomas referred to the ROH by GPs who have been sent a golf ball is smaller than in the six months before the study (indicating earlier referral by GPs).

Awareness and understanding of sarcoma generally amongst GPs who have been sent a golf ball has increased.