Diagnosing Ewing Sarcoma

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Ewing sarcoma may include the following:

  • multiple imaging studies, including the following:
    • x-rays - a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
    • radionuclide bone scans - pictures or x-rays taken of the bone after a dye has been injected that is absorbed by bone tissue. These are used to detect tumors and bone abnormalities.
    • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. This test is done to rule out any associated abnormalities of the spinal cord and nerves.
    • computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
    • positron emission tomography (PET) scan - radioactive-tagged glucose (sugar) is injected into the bloodstream. Tissues that use the glucose more than normal tissues (such as tumors) can be detected by a scanning machine. PET scans can be used to find small tumors or to check if treatment for a known tumor is working.
  • blood tests (including blood chemistries)
  • biopsy of the tumor - a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present; to remove tissue from the affected bone.
  • bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy -  a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the inside of the bone for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present; to remove tissue from the affected bone.

Ewing sarcoma is difficult to distinguish from other similar tumors. Diagnosis is often made by excluding all other common solid tumors, and by the use of genetic studies.

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