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Cancer Health Center

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Diagnosing Sarcoma

If your doctor thinks you may have a sarcoma, you'll probably need a full exam and tests, including:

  • A sample of cells from the tumor, called a biopsy
  • Imaging tests, such as a CT scan, an ultrasound, or an MRI, to help see inside your body
  • A bone scan, if you might have osteosarcoma

Sarcoma Treatments

How your sarcoma is treated depends on what type you have, where in your body it is, how developed it is, and whether or not it has spread to other parts of your body, or metastasized.

Surgery takes the tumor out of your body. In most cases of osteosarcoma, the doctor can remove just the cancer cells, and you won't need your arm or leg removed, too.

Radiation can shrink the tumor before surgery or kill cancer cells that are left after surgery. It could be the main treatment, if surgery isn't an option.

Chemotherapy drugs can also be used with or instead of surgery. Chemo is often the first treatment when the cancer has spread.

Targeted therapies are newer treatments that use drugs or manmade versions of antibodies from the immune system to block the growth of cancer cells while leaving normal cells undamaged.

Surviving Sarcoma

Most people diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma are cured by surgery alone, if the tumor is low-grade; that means it is not likely to spread to other parts of the body. More aggressive sarcomas are harder to treat successfully.

The survival rate for osteosarcoma is between 60% and 80% if the cancer has not spread. It is more likely to be cured if all of the cancer can be removed by surgery.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 29, 2015
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