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Sarcoma Tests, Diagnosis, Stages and Prognosis

The staff at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center can diagnose and treat all types of sarcoma. Our sarcoma experts will work with you to identify the right treatment plan for your diagnosis.

What Tests Can Detect Sarcoma?

As the only noticeable symptom of sarcoma is a noticeable lump, your Banner MD Anderson doctor will need to perform some tests to screen for cancer.

Before any imaging tests are done, your doctor will perform a physical exam. This exam will include questions about your medical history, any family history and will determine if you have any risk factors.

If your doctor determines you may have sarcoma, they will likely perform imaging tests, including:

  • An x-ray of the area of the lump
  • CT scans if there is suspicion of sarcoma in the chest or abdomen
  • MRI scans to evaluate sarcomas in the arms or legs
  • An ultrasound to determine if there is fluid in the lump
  • PET scans if your doctor thinks the cancer has spread

What Happens After Sarcoma is Found?

If the imaging tests indicate that you may have sarcoma, a biopsy will be needed to determine whether the tumor is sarcoma, a different type of cancer or benign

During the biopsy, your doctor will take a small piece of the tumor to test the tissue under a microscope. The type of biopsy you receive, usually fine needle aspiration or a core needle biopsy, will be based on the size and location of the tumor.

What Are the Stages of Sarcoma?

If you are diagnosed with sarcoma, your Banner MD Anderson doctor will assess and determine if the cancer has spread and how far. This process is called staging and grading and determines how much cancer is in the body, how serious the cancer is and how far it has spread. The following are the different stages of sarcoma:

  • Stage I: The tumor is small and low grade
  • Stage II: The tumor is small and higher grade
  • Stage III: The tumor is larger and higher grade
  • Stage IV: The tumor has spread to other parts of the body

Depending on your diagnosis, the sarcoma specialists at Banner MD Anderson will determine your best course of action.

What Does My Sarcoma Prognosis Mean?

Your sarcoma prognosis will determine your survival rate. These rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive after they were diagnosed. Keep in mind that survival rates are based on estimates and cannot predict what will happen. Talk to your Banner MD Anderson specialist about how these numbers apply to you and your particular diagnosis.

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