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Bone cancer diagnosis

Bone cancer rarely begins in the bone. A tumor that does originate in the bone is referred to as a sarcoma. More commonly, bone cancer forms when cancer from another part of the body metastasizes to the bone.

If your healthcare provider believes you may have bone cancer, you will need certain exams and tests to be sure.

You should expect to be asked questions about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors, and family history of disease. Your doctor will discuss the specifics of your condition during your meeting. Understanding your background will help your provider make a diagnosis.

Your doctor may have you take one or more of the following tests:

  • Imaging Test. An X-ray image of your bone at the site of the cancer may reveal abnormalities that your healthcare providers are searching for.
  • Computer Tomography (CT) Scan. CT scans are most useful for detecting the stage of the cancer being diagnosed. The scan’s results tell your doctor if the cancer has spread to your lungs, liver, or other organs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan. Typically, MRI scans are the best test for outlining a bone tumor, and are also helpful for looking at the brain and spinal cord. MRI scans take longer than CT scans – usually around an hour.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan. PET scans are useful for examining cancer throughout your body, and can help determine the current stage of the cancer. It is sometimes used in partnership with a CT scan to better pinpoint the cancer in question.
  • Biopsy Tissue Sample. A biopsy removes tissue or cells to be checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Results from a biopsy help determine if abnormal cells are cancer. Your doctor may perform this procedure in a variety of ways including bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, and needle biopsy. Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more.
  • Getting your test results

    Patients will be called within five days after biopsy by a nurse navigator. Further management will be recommended at that time.