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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. 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 diagnostic tests may be used to find out if your child has osteosarcoma 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. 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.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials
offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about childhood osteosarcoma in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.