An accurate diagnosis is essential to ensure that your child gets the most-effective therapy. Some people come to MSK thinking they have one type of cancer, but they learn through our precision testing that they have a different type of cancer. At MSK Kids, your child benefits from a team of pathologists (doctors who specialize in diagnosing disease) who are dedicated to the sarcoma program and are experts at identifying the features and subtle nuances of each patient’s disease.
How is osteosarcoma diagnosed?
Your child’s pathology team will analyze a sample of the tumor. This is called a tissue biopsy. We get the sample while your child is sedated with anesthesia. We look at the biopsy for evidence of osteosarcoma.
What tests will my child need?
In addition to a tissue biopsy, your child will typically have imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine if the cancer has spread. This process is called staging. Staging is important because it enables doctors to determine the best care plan for your child. Imaging tests may include knee X-rays or X-rays of other areas, CT scanning, MRIs, PET scanning, and bone scans. We will let you know which tests your child will have and what to expect for each. Our team does all we can to ensure that your child is comfortable during these tests.
What is metastatic osteosarcoma?
If your child’s cancer hasn’t spread, it is called localized osteosarcoma. If the cancer has spread, it is called metastatic osteosarcoma. When osteosarcoma spreads, it most commonly travels to the lungs. The cancer may also spread to other bones in the body, farther from the original tumor. The only way to cure metastatic osteosarcoma is to surgically remove all sites where the cancer has spread.
Your child’s tumor will also be classified as low-grade or high-grade osteosarcoma. Grade refers to how aggressive the cancer is likely to be and determines your child’s treatment. Low-grade tumors require less-aggressive treatment than high-grade tumors. Your child’s doctor will explain what this means for your child’s care.