​​During the last four weeks, we have welcomed a group of medical students to Team Bones who are in their third year of their undergraduate degree in Medicine at the University of Sheffield.

Amy, Emma, Pallavi and Dhruv are in their third year of their undergraduate degree in Medicine at the University of Sheffield. As part of their Social Accountability student selected component, they have been working on how we can increase awareness of primary bone cancer among healthcare professionals.

They have produced a fantastic flashcard that includes the main red flag symptoms and investigations needed to achieve a faster diagnosis of primary bone cancer. Their aim is to distribute the card among all medical students; we hope that once all those students have qualified and working on their chosen fields of clinical practice, they will remember, recognise the symptoms and be able to make a diagnosis quicker.

They have also been helping us to update of our primary bone cancer e-learning module for GPs, looking for ways to incentivise further engagement.

Below we interviewed our fantastic group of students to find out more about their work during their time at the Bone Cancer Research Trust.

Why did you decide on a career in Medicine?

Throughout school, we all had an interest in science, biology and the human body. But it was personal experiences of the positive effects that healthcare professionals can have on patients and their families what made us decide that a career in medicine was the right thing for us. A challenging, rewarding and fulfilling choice!

Can you tell us about the Social Accountability initiative?

The Social Accountability initiative is a placement designed for medical students. It aims to help future doctors gain an insight into the social issues that can affect patients and their families. The objective is to help us see how different organisations/charities, such as the Bone Cancer Research Trust, can support and improve people’s health and wellbeing, providing a holistic healthcare outside hospitals and GP surgeries.

What made you choose this project?

Primary bone cancer is a very small part of the curriculum in medical schools. We were aware of it, but we knew little about it. The placement provided us with a great opportunity to learn more. We now know that primary bone cancer is such an understudied field and that there is a fundamental lack of awareness about it, both by the public and the medical community. We felt that by increasing awareness, we could really make a difference to patient lives.

Why is increasing awareness of primary bone cancer among healthcare professionals important?

Often primary bone cancer patients are misdiagnosed as suffering from growing pains or a sports injury. Yet, early diagnosis is incredibly important in order to improve patients’ outcomes and experiences. By being more aware of primary bone cancer, Healthcare Professionals will be more likely to consider it as a possible diagnosis when a patient presents and consequently, will enable them to start a referral pathway sooner.

What difference could this work make for primary bone cancer patients in the future?

We hope that our work increasing awareness of primary bone cancer – particularly how it may present, and the symptoms healthcare professionals should be most worried about – will improve diagnosis times for patients and consequently achieve better prognosis and survival, as well as improve their quality of life before diagnosis, during and after treatment. We also hope that our contribution will help making those suffering from primary bone cancer feel more acknowledged, that although it is a rare cancer, they are not being ignored and that people such as those at the Bone Cancer Research Trust are working hard to bring changes and improvements to primary bone cancer care and support.

Tell us about your experience working at Bone Cancer Research Trust?

It’s been great working with the Bone Cancer Research Trust team! We have had great support whilst working through the project and it has been a privilege to work with such an inspiring charity. We hope that we can continue working on the GP e-learning module and see the project to its conclusion.