The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Signs, symptoms & biopsy

What is a Sarcoma?

Sarcomas are a rare form of cancer that arise from the connective tissue of the body. This includes bone, muscle, nerve, fat and cartilage.

Because they are so rare, it is important that anyone suspected of a sarcoma is seen by a team of doctors and nurse specialists who are experts in this condition.

 

What causes Sarcoma?

The majority of sarcoma occur with no obvious cause or reason but there are a few recognised genetic and environmental links with one example being a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis

Other risk factors for developing sarcoma include radiotherapy (usually for another type of cancer) and chronic leukaemia.

Signs & symptoms

Most sarcomas are found by people who notice a lump that has developed somehwere on their body. Others are found incidentally during unrelated investigations. If you have found a lump, you should visit your GP for investigation. Your GP will arrange a scan of the lump to gain more information on what it is and then, if necessary, refer you to our team. 

Patient cases are discussed at a weekly multi-disciplinary team meeting (MDT). We will review the history from your GP or referring hospital and discuss any radiological imaging or tissue biopsy samples that may have already been taken. We will then contact your GP or referring specialist with our recommendations or we will arrange to see you in one of our clinics based at the Bexley wing.

Many lumps that are discussed by our team are found to be benign (non-cancerous) and can simply be monitored. No surgery is required unless they are causing problematic symptoms. Some lumps however, are found to be sarcomas and will require treatments that can include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. You will be informed of the best treatment for you at your clinic appointment. You will meet a consultant and a nurse specialist, who will support you throughout your treatment. 

Biopsy

If you have felt a lump or one has been found incidentally on other tests you may require a scan and also a biopsy. This is done to obtain a small sample of tissue from the lump so it may be studied under a microscope. Lumps directly under the skin may be biopsied in a clinic however deeper lumps require image guidance and are performed using ultrasound by a Radiologist (x-ray doctor).

Before the procedure:

  • no fasting is required.
  • If you are taking any blood thinning medications, particularly warfarin, this will need to be stopped prior to the biopsy or replaced with other agents depending on the reason. The Nurse Specialist shall advise on this appropriately at the time of booking.
  • it is advised that you avoid driving on the day of procedure so please ensure arrangements are in place.

How is a biopsy performed?

A biopsy is performed by a Radiologist. The procedure involves the radiologist numbing the area with a local anaesthetic injected into the skin. A few samples are taken from the lump using a special needle.

You will be aware of the procedure however there should be little or no pain.

What happens after the procedure?

Once the samples have been obtained a small plaster is applied and you will be asked to wait in the department for 15 minutes before you leave. The local anaesthetic will wear off soon and there may be some discomfort. If required simple painkillers, e.g paracetamol should be taken. Keep the plaster on the site of biopsy for the rest of the day and remove the following day. 

If the site of biopsy enlarges in size, becomes tense and tender or starts oozing a small volume of pus it is advised to call your doctor and arrange a consultation

When will I get the results of the biopsy?

Once the results are available you will be contacted by the Nurse Specialist and a hospital appointment arranged for you.

Where do I go for the biopsy?

Your biopsy will be performed in the Radiology Department at Chapel Allerton Hospital. Chapeltown road, Leeds. LS7 4SA

To check in for a biopsy procedure

Enter through the main entrance of Chapel Allerton Hospital and turn right and follow the corridor signposted for Xray & Ultrasound which is located on the ground floor.

Check in at the main Radiology Reception where you will be directed to the waiting area and a member of staff informed.