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Childhood Osteosarcoma Diagnosis

Accurate diagnosis is important for successful osteosarcoma treatment, and an error or misdiagnosis may actually be harmful.  

The specialized surgeons and pathologists at Children’s Cancer Hospital are among the most experienced and skilled in the nation in diagnosing pediatric osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. They use the latest methods and technology.

If at all possible, the first biopsy should be at the cancer center where your child will receive treatment. Try to go to a cancer center that sees a large number of pediatric osteosarcoma patients and has a dedicated sarcoma team that includes specialized pathologists.

Diagnostic Tests

If your child has symptoms of osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, the doctor will examine your child carefully and ask questions about your child’s and family’s medical history.

One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if your child has osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, and if it has spread. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.

Blood tests

Imaging tests, which may include:

  • CT (computed tomography) scans
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • X-rays
  • PET (positive emission tomography) scans
  • Bone scans


Two types of biopsies are used to diagnose osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. Your child’s doctor will choose the best method for your child.

Core biopsy: A needle is used to remove small cylinder-shaped samples (cores).

Surgical (open) biopsy: An incision (cut) is made in the skin, and the surgeon removes a small piece of the tumor. If tissue removed during a surgical biopsy is found to be osteosarcoma, surgery to remove the tumor may be done during the same procedure.

If your child has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • One of few pediatric osteosarcoma teams in the U.S.
  • Advanced surgical procedures, including limb-sparing surgery
  • A range of clinical trials of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) therapies
  • Latest diagnostic tools; specialized pathologists
  • Most-advanced chemotherapy agents and delivery methods to treat osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
  • Family-centered care and extensive support services

Childhood Osteosarcoma Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Childhood osteosarcoma is treated in our:

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Getting a Second Opinion at MD Anderson

The experts at Children’s Cancer Hospital are highly specialized in diagnosing pediatric osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. We welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions for osteosarcoma.

If you would like to get a second opinion at Children’s Cancer Hospital, call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center