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Sarcoma diagnosis

If you have a strong family history of sarcomas, you may consider speaking with your health care provider about their recommendations for genetic testing. Families with a history of certain inherited conditions have an increased risk of developing soft-tissue sarcomas.

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.

  • Imaging tests

    • Computer tomography (CT) scan. CT scans are X-ray images most useful for detecting if a sarcoma has formed in the chest, abdomen or the retroperitoneum.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. An MRI scan uses radio waves and strong magnets instead of X-rays to take pictures of the body. A computer translates the patterns into a very detailed image of parts of the body in question. MRI scans take longer than CT scans – usually around an hour.
    • X-ray. An X-ray image is recommended to examine a lump in question and may be followed by an X-ray of your chest to check if the sarcoma has spread to your lungs. These tests may reveal abnormalities that your health care providers are searching for.
  • Biopsy

    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 fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy and core needle biopsy. Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more.

  • Test results

    Patients will be contacted after a biopsy by a Markey team member to review results. Further management will be recommended at that time.

  • Second opinions

    When you are diagnosed with a sarcoma, it is common to feel a sense of urgency around starting treatment. However, in most cases, there is time to do the needed research to ensure that your diagnosis is correct. That may include getting a second opinion.

    Our team of experts works together to diagnose, treat and prevent sarcoma, with a focus on individualized patient care. 

    Markey is among the best cancer centers in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, when it comes to advanced treatment options, survival rates and experienced providers. As the one and only NCI-designated cancer program in Kentucky, Markey is able to serve many patients each year with rare and common cancers, including a sarcoma.

    Our specialized team is happy to work with your doctors and communicate to ensure confidence in your diagnosis.

  • Should I get a second opinion?

    A second opinion can help to ensure that you will be getting the latest and most effective therapy for treating a sarcoma. The following are common reasons for seeking a second opinion after your initial diagnosis:

    • You are having difficulty understanding your diagnosis.
    • A dedicated team specialized in your cancer type may not be available in your area.
    • There may be uncertainty around the stage of sarcoma.
    • You may want to learn more about treatment options, including clinical trials and advanced technologies only available at an advanced center like Markey.
    • Your health insurance requires a second opinion before continuing toward treatment.

    Questions to ask when getting a second opinion

    After receiving a cancer diagnosis, you may have a lot on your mind. Here a few questions to keep in mind for your doctor when seeking a second opinion:

    • Is there a chance that my medical problem could have a different diagnosis?
    • Are there additional tests I should take before moving forward with treatment?
    • Do you recommend any treatments at this time?
    • What do you expect to happen if I wait or don’t have the treatment?
    • What are the side effects of treatment?
    • How long are treatment recovery periods?

Learn More

Overview
Diagnosis
Treatment
Follow-up Care
Resources
About ewing sarcoma
About osteosarcoma
About chondrosarcoma
Sarcoma prevention
Surgery
Chemotherapy
Radiation therapy
Questions to ask
Surveillance
Support services