Sarcoma Awareness Month: a spotlight on rare but rising cancers

Rare types of cancer are on the rise and nurses should keep up to date and enhance skills and knowledge of them to enable faster diagnosis and treatment

Yellow Ribbon for supporting people living with illness: Sarcoma Awareness Month is in July
Picture: iStock

This month, let’s talk about awareness raising.

July marks Sarcoma Awareness Month – a chance to raise understanding about this rare type of cancer that develops in the soft tissue, such as in the muscle, bone and nerves.

World Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Day

In 2022, I introduced rare cancers as a journal theme for actively commissioning content, recognising that these cancers are on the rise and we need to increase our knowledge and skills to enable faster diagnosis and treatment of them.

On July 27, it is World Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Day, which provides an opportunity for people to flag up the signs, symptoms and risk factors of the disease as well as signpost people to where help can be sought.

We have two recent clinical, evidence-based articles that coincide well with this awareness day.

Rapid dental deterioration after radiotherapy for oral cancer: a case report explains how radiotherapy to the head and neck region has oral side effects and can lead to catastrophic dental deterioration, despite being largely preventable. The article features the case of a patient whose dentition was irreparably compromised after radical radiotherapy for a soft palate cancer.

Other considerations of people surviving cancer for longer

In Managing the nutritional status of people with oesophagogastric cancer: a literature review, Watson and Andrewes compile a literature review to aid understanding of patients’ experiences following an oesophagectomy and how nurses might help with providing nutritional support.

It is great news that people are surviving cancer for longer, but with this comes other considerations: an estimated one in four people who have cancer are living with the long-term consequences of treatment, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Our analysis, Late effects of cancer treatment: what nurses need to know, explains there may be long-term effects of treatment that nurses should be aware of, including lymphoedema, and effects on the heart, lungs, bones, head and neck. It includes seven ways to help alert patients to the potential late effects of cancer treatment. I urge you to take a read.

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Jennifer Sprinks, editor of Cancer Nursing Practice and co-editor of Nursing Management