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World class sarcoma care in the West Midlands

Sarcoma Research Training Day

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Earlier this week we held a Sarcoma Research Training Day. In partnership with the Bone Cancer Research Trust and supported by the Royal Orthopaedic Charity, the event focused on the latest in Sarcoma research, how the ROH continues to be a pioneer in the field and the important role that research nurses are playing. It was a brilliant day gaining useful and practical skills to integrate into practice, and we heard all about the research into sarcomas happening right here at ROH.

The day started with an overview from Mr Jonathan Stevenson on the current challenge presented by sarcomas before Mr Scott Evans joined us to talk through surgical management of Sarcomas. He shared examples of Sarcomas and explained how surgical options range from limb-salvage surgery to amputation. Anish Patel joined us to talk through the use of cryoablation, a minimally invasive interventional radiology procedure that uses extreme cold to freeze and kill abnormal cancerous cells. At the ROH cryoablation is being used to support patients as a pain management tool, as killing the cancerous cells can often bring pain relief, and for patients where radiation isn’t possible in a localised area. This is because sometimes it can be dangerous for radiation to be given to the same area.

Diagnoses of primary bone cancer are often made a few months after the patient notices signs – this delayed diagnosis is down to several issues. Bone Cancer Research Trust’s Head of Research & Information, Dr Zoe Davison, explained this is often down to misdiagnosis of symptoms, with primary bone cancer often mistaken for common medical conditions like arthritis and tendonitis or even growing pains. It’s also not a focus area for medical students meaning GPs and those on the front line have less awareness of what to look for. Dr Davison went on to explain how we can improve earlier diagnosis through engaging with primary care professionals and providing educational tools around signs and symptoms.

The afternoon turned to research – Lead Research Nurse at ROH, Ellie Keeling shared more about the ROH research team and highlighted some of our genomics and tissue bank work. The research team is made up of 22 staff members and we have a vast research portfolio across Orthopaedic and Oncology specialties. The research tissue bank was established over thirty years ago and contains the world’s largest archive of frozen bone tumour samples. It currently holds over 32,000 bone and muscle samples, including all orthopaedic malignancies as well as other benign and non-tumour tissue types. You can read more about our research and research facilities here Royal Orthopaedic Hospital – Research facilities (roh.nhs.uk)  

We were also joined by Dr Lucas Souza and Dr Sally Fletcher who are leading on research projects right here in the Dubrowsky Regenerative Medicine Laboratory (nestled next to our Theatres at  the ROH). The Dubrowsky Lab plays a pivotal role in nurturing young talent and contributing to charitable initiatives.

Dr Lucas Souza shared with the audience his research looking into multifunctional biomaterials for bone cancer therapy while Dr Sally Fletcher talked to us about her research in understanding more about chondrosarcomas (cancer of the cartilage cells) to help develop new treatments.

A big thank you to the ROH research team for organising a really informative session and providing staff with the chance to learn more about the signs and symptoms of sarcomas, surgical treatment options and how ROH is leading on a number of research projects to help develop kinder treatments for patients.