Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is the specialist sarcoma chemotherapy and day therapy treatment centre for New South Wales, concentrating experts in a centre of sarcoma expertise.
A sarcoma is a malignant tumour derived from cancerous bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, and vascular or hematopoietic tissues. Although sarcoma is considered a rare cancer, it nevertheless affects about 700 people in NSW each year – predominantly young people.
Sarcomas comprise between 10% and 20% of cancers in teenagers and young adults.
Treatment at Chris O`Brien Lifehouse is provided through multidisciplinary teams (MDT) made up chemotherapy specialists, radiation oncologists, clinical trial researchers, nurses, social workers and psychologists who tailor treatment to each patient.
Sarcoma specialist Dr Vivek Bhadri is a member of the MDT. “My main role is to determine and implement the most appropriate chemotherapy plan for each patient. I usually meet the young person very soon after diagnosis, organise scans to see if the tumour has spread to other parts of the body, and spend time discussing the chemotherapy and its potential side effects. I’ll then see the patient and their family regularly over the course of treatment, which can be many months, and then at periodic intervals with scans for up to five years. I also try to ensure the young person stays engaged with their studies/work/family/social life as much as possible.”
If you would like to undertake your cancer treatment with us, you will first need to become a patient of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. To do this, your GP or specialist will need to refer you to see one of our Lifehouse specialists.
If you wish to participate in a clinical trial, speak with your treating oncologist or GP to see if there are current trials you may be suitable for.
Helping young people with cancer
Sarcoma and the Adolescent and Young Adult team
Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be stressful at any age, but for our younger patients it can raise a particular set of questions. Will I ever be okay? Am I the only one?
At Chris O’Brien Lifehouse we have a special Adolescent and Young Adult team that works with people between 15 and 29 years old to help them adjust to the changes a diagnosis can bring.
One of the more common cancers of people in this age group are sarcomas, a group of cancers that start in the bones or the soft tissues. While it only affects around 1% of adults with cancer, it is much more prevalent in younger people and our Adolescent and Young Adult team sees many of our sarcoma patients.
The most frequently asked question our sarcoma patients ask is, did I do something wrong to cause this? And the answer is no; it does not come from eating the wrong food or from not exercising enough. Also, and really importantly, when our young patients ask this question it gives them an opportunity to explore some of the issues around it, from reactions to the illness such as anxiety or depression to dealing with body image and sexuality concerns.
The questions our young patients ask might start out the same but the discussions will always be different. The members of our Adolescent and Young Adult team are expertly trained to help.
For more information, check out the Professional Counselling and Therapy page.
In NSW alone, someone is diagnosed with cancer every 13 minutes. Every dollar you contribute to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse will make a difference to the 57,000 patients who visit us each year.