Imagine being diagnosed with a cancer that no-one has heard of, that even your doctor might never have seen before. This is the case for over 5,300 people in the UK diagnosed with sarcoma every year. This is a tenth of those found with breast cancer, meaning that those diagnosed with sarcoma might never meet someone who shares the same type as them; in many ways, sarcoma is the loneliest cancer.
Sarcomas are tumours that develop in the body’s soft tissue or bones and they can appear in almost any part of the body.
I am all too aware of the devastating impact of sarcoma as my close friend and mentor Simon Mellows tragically died of the disease. He was a constant inspiration to me and was instrumental in my journey from running my first marathon to becoming the world record-holder for leg amputees and 200m Paralympic champion.
As patron of Sarcoma UK, I am supporting the launch of a new report which I hope goes some way to raising awareness among the general public and healthcare professionals of the condition and silent symptoms which can lead to late or misdiagnosis, often with heart-breaking consequences. Indeed, only 55% sarcoma patients survive for five or more years after diagnosis.
With greater general awareness, diagnosis could be quicker, treatment could be more effective and funding for pioneering research could be increased. Lives in the UK could genuinely be saved and at the very least cut the suffering caused by this rare, aggressive and often cruel cancer.
If you want more information on our new report or symptoms of sarcoma visit: sarcoma.org.uk.
Richard Whitehead MBE
Paralympian & Patron of Sarcoma UK