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Your child will have a number of tests to investigate their symptoms and confirm a diagnosis of a bone tumour, including:

  • medical history and physical examination
  • medical imaging, which may include
    • X-ray
    • computed tomography (CT) scan
    • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • bone scan
    • positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • biopsy – where a small sample of the cancer is removed to be examined under a microscope. The sample can also be tested for genetic changes that can help determine the best type of treatment for your child.

In addition, diagnosis of Ewing tumours might also involve:

  • blood tests
  • bone marrow aspiration and biopsy – where a sample of bone marrow and a small piece of bone are taken to be examined under a microscope.

These tests are explained in more detail in How is cancer diagnosed?.


If your child is diagnosed with a bone tumour, some of the diagnostic tests will also help to stage the tumour. Staging determines where the tumour is, how big it is, which nearby organs are involved and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. This is important to determine the outlook (prognosis) for your child, and to decide on the best options for treatment.

There are different ways to assess the stage or extent of disease. Osteosarcoma and Ewing tumours are commonly staged as either localised (the cancer has not spread beyond the bone it started in) or metastatic (the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, usually to other bones or the lungs).

The American Cancer Society has more information about staging for osteosarcoma and Ewing tumours.

published: Sunday, 23 August, 2015