Soft Tissue Sarcoma Diagnosis

Getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial to getting the best care for a soft tissue sarcoma. By making absolutely sure that we have diagnosed the correct sarcoma type, we can better determine the most effective treatment approach for you.

Diagnosing soft tissue sarcoma is no straightforward matter. Among people who come to us for a second opinion, our pathologists change the diagnosis approximately 15 percent of the time.

At MSK, we review your medical history, assess your overall health, and use imaging tests such as such as CT and PET scans or MRI to get a complete picture of the disease.

While these tests are very helpful, however, the gold standard for diagnosing sarcoma is a biopsy. In this procedure, we take out a tiny piece of the tumor so that a pathologist can look at it under a microscope.

Of the more than 70 types of soft tissue sarcoma, many have unique genetic “fingerprints.” Our pathologists are experts at recognizing variations in soft tissue sarcoma types and determining the best treatment. In fact, when our pathologists analyze soft tissue sarcoma biopsies submitted for a second opinion, we change the diagnosis in about 15 percent of cases.

By making absolutely sure that we have diagnosed the correct sarcoma type, we can better determine the most effective treatment approach.

Sarcoma Genome Project

Our researchers lead the Sarcoma Genome Project in an effort to find the genetic markers that reveal tumor aggressiveness and likely response to treatment. Every one of our patients with soft tissue sarcoma receives genetic and molecular sequencing of their tumor.

A collaborative effort with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the Sarcoma Genome Project aims to better define the different types of soft tissue sarcomas using state-of-the-art cancer genomics technologies, and improve our ability to understand a person’s prognosis and develop targeted therapies.

Staging

After we evaluate the tissue sample from the biopsy and complete any imaging studies that might help, we’ll stage the tumor. Staging soft tissue sarcoma involves identifying the location of the tumor and how far it may have spread. It also enables us to design a personalized treatment strategy for you.