2.3 Referral

2.3 Referral

All patients with suspected sarcoma should be referred to a specialist sarcoma multidisciplinary team before biopsy (Cancer Council Australia Sarcoma Guidelines Working Party 2014, ESMO 2014a, ESMO 2014b).

Patients aged under than 16 years should attend a paediatric specialist treatment centre. Patients aged 16–18 years should attend either a paediatric or adult specialist centre with access to a multidisciplinary team and supportive services appropriate to the AYA age group.

Referral for suspected sarcoma should incorporate appropriate documentation sent with the patient including:

  • a letter that includes important psychosocial and medical history, family history, current symptoms, medications and allergies
  • results of current clinical investigations (imaging reports)
  • results of all prior relevant investigations
  • any prior imaging, particularly a hard copy or CD where online access is not available (lack of a hard copy should not delay referral)
  • notification if an interpreter service is required.

Timeframe for referral to a specialist

Timeframes for referral to a specialist should be informed by evidence-based guidelines (where they exist) while recognising that shorter timelines for appropriate consultations and treatment can reduce patient distress.

The following recommended timeframes are based on expert advice from the Sarcoma Working Group1:

  • A suspected sarcoma should be referred to a specialist within two weeks.
  • The first specialist assessment should occur within four weeks of referral.

The supportive and liaison role of the GP and practice team in this process is critical.