Are You Sarcoma Aware?

5th July 2022
Sarcoma Cancer Nurse Specialists Jill Kennedy and Gemma Bowman

To mark Sarcoma Awareness Month, Cancer Nurse Specialists Jill Kennedy and Gemma Bowman are raising awareness of the importance of early diagnosis to help improve patient outcomes.
A sarcoma is a type of cancer that starts in tissues such as bone or muscle. Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels, or deep skin tissue. They can be found in any part of the body, including the trunk, head and neck and internal organs but most of them start in the arms or legs. Sarcomas are not a common type of cancer.

Finding cancer early often allows for more treatment options. Specialist doctors can diagnose a sarcoma through a series of tests including, ultrasound and MRI scans, biopsies and clinical examination. Most people with a sarcoma notice a lump that’s grown over time; the lump may or may not be painful.

Signs and symptoms can vary and the list below does not include everything, but if you are experiencing any of these issues it is important to make an appointment to see your Doctor:
• A lump which is growing, changing, or is bigger than the size of a golf ball.
• Swelling, tenderness or pain in or around the bone, which may come and go and may be worse at night.
• Stomach pain, feeling sick, loss of appetite or feeling full after eating only a small amount of food.
• Blood in either your stool or vomit.

Cancer Nurse Specialists are also known as ‘key workers’ and provide a vital link between patients, medical teams and key support services. Jill and Gemma are both based in the Ulster Hospital and work closely with patients and their families, providing information, counselling and support. Jill enjoys her role within the team and said, “I feel very fortunate to be working as part of the Sarcoma Team in the South Eastern HSC Trust.

“Getting to know patients and their families is such a rewarding part of my job, being that ‘link’ for patients between all the services that they need to access can make their journey feel smoother and less stressful.”

Gemma, who has been working within the team for nearly 3 years, is very keen to raise awareness of the importance of early detection to improve outcomes for patients, she explains, “This year Sarcoma awareness month is not only about raising awareness of sarcoma, but also to drive home the importance of early diagnosis, this is something I feel is vitally important.

“Many of our patients experience a delay in diagnosis, to be able to shorten this by educating the public and other primary care providers on how to recognise a sarcoma is so important. This could lead to increasing a patient’s chance of long-term survival and improve their overall experience.”

To find out more about Sarcoma’s you can visit or

You can also email: for information on local support services.