Sarcoma diagnosis

If a soft tissue sarcoma is suspected, a biopsy will be done. The type of biopsy will be based on the size and location of the tumor. There are three types of biopsies commonly used. Your physician will choose the best one for you:

  • Incisional biopsy: The removal of part of a lump or a sample of tissue.
  • Core biopsy: The removal of tissue using a wide needle.
  • Excisional biopsy: The removal of an entire lump or area of tissue that doesn’t look normal.

The following tests may be done on the tissue that was removed:

  • Immunohistochemistry study: To tell the difference between different types of cancer.
  • Light and electron microscopy: To look for certain changes in the cells.
  • Cytogenetic analysis: To look for certain changes in the chromosomes.
  • FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization): To look at genes or chromosomes in cells and tissues.
  • Flow cytometry: To measure the number of cells in a sample, the percentage of live cells in a sample and certain characteristics of cells, such as size, shape and the presence of tumor markers on the cell surface.