Getting it right the first time



‘Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.’ Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871, p. 3.

This quote from Charles Darwin applies to many things in the world of medicine and orthopaedics but none more so than that of orthopaedic oncology. As oncology surgeons strive daily to move away from the ‘tumour and sepsis’ stereotype and to deal with sarcomas rather than tumours, so too are we also trying to improve the treatment of sarcoma patients in South Africa. There is no reason why ‘whoops’ procedures should still occur or for a non-qualified surgeon to ‘give it a go’. The risk of patient morbidity is just too great. Focus and attention to detail in the history and examination of a mass or the reading of a radiograph can give enough information to determine whether a mass is of concern for a sarcoma or not. If there is concern, a referral should be made.

Author Biography

Thomas Hilton, University of Cape Town

Department of Orthopaedics, Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children’s Hospitals, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa