Recognizing Sarcoma: Insights from pre-diagnosis GP visit trends

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There are distinct patterns in general practitioner (GP) visits and diagnoses in the months leading up to a sarcoma diagnosis, according to a study that suggests recognizing these patterns could help GPs identify potential sarcoma cases earlier, leading to improved diagnosis and treatment outcomes for patients.

The study included 787 individuals with soft-tissue sarcoma (STS) and 188 with bone sarcoma (BS). Findings revealed a significant increase in monthly GP visits starting 4 months before an STS diagnosis and 2 months before a BS diagnosis when compared with cancer-free controls based on age and gender.

For STS cases, the most common diagnoses recorded by GPs were:

  • Musculoskeletal neoplasm (26.6%)
  • Uncomplicated hypertension (15.6%)
  • Cystitis and other urinary infections (12.2%)

For BS cases, frequent diagnoses included:

  • Musculoskeletal neoplasm (42.8%)
  • Knee symptoms/complaints (9.7%)
  • Shoulder symptoms/complaints (9.7%)

The study concluded that “Better understanding of the prediagnostic trajectory could aid GPs in early identification of sarcoma.”

Holthuis EI, van der Graaf WTA, Drabbe C, et al; and other members of the Study Group. The prediagnostic general practitioner care of sarcoma patients: A real-world data study. J Surg Oncol. 2024;doi: 10.1002/jso.27757. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38946219.