Diagnosing Bone Cancer and Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Effective treatment for bone cancer or soft tissue sarcoma starts with an accurate diagnosis. Henry Ford Cancer uses advanced tests to diagnose cancer and tailor a treatment plan for you.

During diagnosis, we find out:

  • Tumor type (benign or malignant)
  • Tumor size and location
  • What stage the cancer is (how advanced it is and how fast it’s growing)
  • If the cancer has spread (metastasized) and where
Newly diagnosed? Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167 or request an appointment online.

How we test for bone cancer and soft tissue sarcoma

Our orthopedic cancer specialists have access to an array of tools to provide a precise diagnosis.

Diagnostic imaging

We may use one or more of these diagnostic imaging techniques to detect bone cancer and soft tissue sarcoma, including:

  • Bone scan: You receive a small dose of radioactive substance through an injection in a vein. The substance travels to your bones, and we scan the bones to look for “hot spots” that may indicate cancer.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: We use special computerized X-rays to create detailed pictures of your bones or soft tissue and find cancer.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test uses a magnetic field and pulses of energy to create a high-contrast image of your tumor to aid diagnosis.
  • Positron emission technology (PET) scan: We use small amounts of radioactive substances to show how your tissues and organs are functioning and highlight unusual growths.
  • Ultrasound fusion: This is an advanced imaging technique that combines live ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) with CT, MRI or PET scans. Ultrasound fusion allows us to create a detailed image in real time.
  • X-ray: We use a type of radiation called electromagnetic waves to create pictures of the inside of your body.


We use biopsy to confirm a cancer diagnosis and find out how quickly cancer cells are growing. We use a needle or make an incision in your skin to remove and test a tissue sample from the tumor.

Intraoperative pathology support

Henry Ford pathologists can quickly analyze and diagnose tissue samples while you’re still in the operating room. This process helps us confirm that we have found and removed all cancerous areas. Your doctor can adjust the operation as needed, so you can avoid repeated operations.

Personalized treatment

Once we diagnose cancer, your doctor explains your treatment options and works with you to create a personalized treatment plan. Your doctor also explains what to expect from bone cancer or soft tissue sarcoma treatment.

Genetic testing

Your doctor may recommend genetic testing if your family history includes certain cancers or inherited conditions. Henry Ford’s cancer team is specially trained to interpret the results of genetic tests and explain what these results mean for you.

Genetic testing for bone cancer

We may recommend genetic testing for bone cancer if you have a family history of one of these conditions:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Hereditary retinoblastoma
  • Rothmund-Thompson syndrome

Noncancerous bone conditions, including Paget’s disease or osteochondroma, can also increase your risk of developing osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Your doctor may recommend ongoing medical screenings in this situation.

Genetic testing for soft tissue sarcoma

A family history of certain inherited conditions can put you at higher risk for soft tissue sarcomas. Genetic testing can detect the genes that cause these conditions:

  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Gardner syndrome
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Werner syndrome
  • Gorlin syndrome
  • Tuberous sclerosis

Talk with a doctor to find out if you should have genetic testing. And see your doctor immediately if you notice any lumps or growths.

Take the next step
Request a bone and muscle cancer appointment, call (888)777-4167.

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