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London sarcoma service

Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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what to expect


diagnosis and staging

The most important part of diagnosis is to take a sample of the tumour, called a biopsy. The biopsy is examined by the pathologist under a microscope, to confirm whether there is cancer, and to decide the type of sarcoma. Most biopsies are done under local anaesthetic using ultrasound or CT scanning to guide the biopsy. Then scans must be done to find out whether the tumour has spread anywhere else in the body, or whether it is confined to the primary site. This is called staging. Soft tissue sarcomas of the limbs are most likely to spread into the lungs, whereas those of the abdomen or gut may spread into the liver. Bone sarcomas most commonly spread to the lungs and bones. Staging scans may include CT scans, MRI scans, bone scans and PET scans.