Sarcoma Unit

The Sarcoma Unit is one of the largest soft-tissue sarcoma units in Europe, recognised worldwide for its strength in diagnosing and treating soft-tissue sarcomas

Between 2004 and 2008, the Sarcoma Unit saw approximately 4,000 new patients with confirmed or suspected soft-tissue sarcomas. We have extensive experience in the management of soft-tissue sarcomas affecting any part of the body, and have a special interest in the management of retroperitoneal sarcomas. The Sarcoma Unit is the national centre with the greatest amount of experience in managing this challenging problem; it has published and presented nationally and internationally its research into the surgical and oncological management of retroperitoneal sarcomas.

Soft-tissue sarcomas

Sarcomas are rare, representing only about 1% of all cancer cases. Soft-tissue sarcomas arise in tissues such as fat, muscle, nerves, and blood and lymph vessels. Some do not resemble any known tissue type.

There are more than 50 different tumour subtypes of soft-tissue sarcoma, each with a different behaviour, management and outcome. Patients are best treated in a specialist hospital by a team of experts with a dedicated interest and vast experience in the management of all types of soft-tissue sarcomas.

High-quality patient care

We offer high-quality healthcare to patients both as outpatients and inpatients. We provide a comprehensive service, from assessment and diagnosis to treatment, rehabilitation and follow-up. This is done with a maximum of efficiency while treating every patient with the sensitivity, compassion and discretion they deserve.

In addition to providing a diagnostic service for patients with suspicious lumps, we are also willing to discuss cases in our MDT following a detailed review of the radiology and histopathology, and to give advice where appropriate.  This may sometimes avoid the patient having to travel a long distance to see us in the clinic.

The Trust also operates a clinical triage model for two-week rule (2WR) referrals to the Sarcoma unit. Our Consultant Surgeons undertake a clinical triage of all 2WR referrals and accompanying ultrasound reports, to advise whether a patient requires an appointment at The Royal Marsden or alternatively to advise GPs that the patient is appropriate for local management. This new pathway means some patients can be seen closer to home.

Specialist sarcoma team

The Sarcoma Unit is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of specialist doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, all with a dedicated interest and international experience in managing this rare condition. We have special expertise in all aspects of diagnosis, treatment and symptom control in order to ensure that we deliver an efficient, effective and patient-friendly service.

Limb soft tissue sarcomas

Sarcomas are unusual in that they can occur in any site of the human body, although about 50 percent occur in the limbs. Surgery remains the primary treatment for most soft tissue sarcomas. It is very specialised treatment taking into account diagnosis staging, tumour subtype and grade, treatment side-effects and limb-function preservation. The majority of limb sarcomas when greater than five centimetres in size or high grade are managed by a combination of surgery and radiation therapy. Radiation therapy may be used before or after surgery. The Royal Marsden is one of the large dedicated sarcoma units in the country treating limb soft tissue sarcomas.

Retroperitoneal sarcomas

The Royal Marsden is one of the largest centres in Europe managing retroperitoneal tumours, including retroperitoneal sarcomas. Patients from across the United Kingdom are referred to our Chelsea hospital for the treatment of this challenging condition.

Retroperitoneal sarcomas are rare tumours, accounting for approximately 10% to 15% of all soft-tissue tumours. Retroperitoneal sarcomas constitute a therapeutic challenge because of their relatively late presentation and anatomical location, often in close relationship with multiple vital structures in the anatomically complex retroperitoneal space.

The Sarcoma Unit at The Royal Marsden has extensive experience in the surgical and oncological treatment of primary and recurrent retroperitoneal sarcomas.

Isolated limb perfusion

Isolated limb perfusion (ILP) is a specialised technique for the treatment of unresectable extremity limb malignancy, and is mainly used in the treatment of unresectable melanoma or sarcoma affecting a limb.

Isolated limb perfusion is a technique that can be used to deliver a high dose of anti-cancer drugs (melphalan and TNF-alpha) directly to a limb. This procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic.

The Royal Marsden's Sarcoma Unit and Melanoma Unit have extensive experience in using this technique to treat advanced melanoma and sarcoma of the limb if the extent or anatomical position of the disease precludes treatment by surgical resection.

Staff at the Sarcoma Unit

Head of Unit




Medical Oncology

Clinical Oncology

Clinical Nurse Specialists

  • Alison Dunlop, Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Kelly McKibbin, Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Elaine Stephens, Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Angela Teague, Clinical Nurse Specialist

Research Nurses 

  • Elizabeth Barquin, Research Nurse  
  • Diego Bottero, Research Nurse  
  • Alice Burridge, Research Nurse   
  • Steven Edmunds, Research Nurse   

Pain Management Team

Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation

  • Natalie Doyle, Nurse Consultant Cancer Rehabilitation

Palliative Care Team

Advanced Nurse Practitioner

  • Stephanie O’Neill

Service Manager

  • Christopher Stone