How is osteosarcoma diagnosed?

The doctor will begin with a thorough history and physical examination. The doctor will ask about the child’s symptoms and medical history; for example, whether the child has ever received radiation treatment or whether anyone in the family has certain hereditary conditions.

The doctor might also use certain tests when making the diagnosis. These include:

  • Blood tests: These tests can provide information about blood counts and how well organs such as the kidney and liver are working. There is no blood test to detect the presence of a bone tumor.
  • X-ray: An X-ray will be done to look for abnormal growths on the bones. Later, a chest X-ray may be done to see if the cancer has spread to the lungs.
  • Computed tomography (CT): CT uses computers to combine many X-ray images into cross-sectional views of the inside of the body. This test is used to look for any tumor spread in the lungs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to create clear images of the body. This may be ordered for clearer pictures if an X-ray is not normal.
  • Bone scan: This test uses a small amount of radioactive material injected into the body to identify bone disorders.
  • PET scan: This test uses a special glucose tracer that is concentrated in cancer cells, and shows the areas in the body where the glucose uptake is extra high.
  • Biopsy: This is a procedure in which a piece of tissue from the affected area is removed so that it can be studied for cancer cells under a microscope.

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