Bone Cancer (cont.)
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Bone Cancer Diagnosis
Your physician will likely begin with a complete medical history, family history, and physical examination. The purpose of the medical and family history is to determine how your symptoms developed and how they have changed over time. These clues can help your physician diagnose bone cancer versus some other potential cause of your symptoms. The physical examination will evaluate the area of pain or mass, and check your strength, sensation, and reflexes.
Certain blood tests may be ordered that can help with the diagnosis. Alkaline phosphatase and lactate dehydrogenase are often elevated in the blood of patients with osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma.
Next, the physician will likely order some imaging study of the affected bone. Plain X-rays or radiographs can often identify abnormalities in the bones and provide information on the shape, size, and location of the tumor.
After an abnormality has been identified in the bone, your physician may want to obtain a biopsy of the bone. This involves taking a small piece of the bone that can be studied by a pathologist to determine what type of cancer is present. Depending on the location of the cancer, the biopsy may be obtained in the office with a small needle or may need to be obtained in the operating room by a surgeon.
Staging of Bone Cancer
The stage of the cancer refers to the extent of spread of the cancer. Based on the various imaging studies and biopsy, your physician can determine how aggressive the cancer is and whether or not it has spread from its initial location to other locations in the body.
Stage I: The cancer is all contained within the bone and has not spread to other areas of the body.
Stage II: The cancer is contained within the bone and has not spread, but the biopsy shows the cancer is more aggressive.
Stage III: The cancer has spread to more than one area within the bone, but it has not spread outside of the bone.
Stage IV: The cancer has spread outside of the bone to other areas of the body.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2016
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