Editorial

Soft tissue tumours of the extremities

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7517.590 (Published 15 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:590
  1. Ken Mannan ([email protected]), specialist registrar orthopaedics,
  2. T W Briggs, consultant orthopaedic surgeon
  1. Bone Tumour Unit, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, Stanmore, Middlesex HA7 4LP

    Require a high index of suspicion to enable early referral

    Soft tissue tumours are rare, and the exact proportion of benign to malignant lesions (sarcomas) is difficult to determine. A study of a hospital population found that benign lesions outnumbered malignant ones by 100:1; their incidence was about 300 per 100 000 population.1 In an average general practice of 3000 patients, at least three cases of benign soft tissue tumour per year may be expected. However, only one case of soft tissue sarcoma would be expected in this population every 24 years.

    More than 50 different types of soft tissue tumour are recognised, and management depends on the tumour stage, grade, and histological type. The consequences of a missed case of sarcoma are serious—even a low grade sarcoma may metastasise. In the experience of our unit, cases of soft tissue sarcoma are being referred with some delay. This may result in adverse consequences for patients and potential medicolegal implications. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) …

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