North Carolina doctors who believe that a patient could have a soft tissue sarcoma use a number of tools to make a diagnosis. They can also use tests to determine where the cancer is in the body and if it has spread to other areas. The type of diagnostic tests that are used depend on the person's signs and symptoms, medical condition and the results of earlier tests.
Doctors can use imaging tests to determine if a soft tissue sarcoma is benign or cancerous. Depending on where the sarcoma is located, a doctor may order an x-ray, a computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging or a positron emission tomography scan. X-rays are often used to find bone sarcomas as they show the structures inside the body. CT or CAT scans are useful to show the tumors size. An MRI can also show the tumors size but may also be used to determine if a biopsy is needed. PET scans create pictures of a patient's organs.
While imaging tests can be used to find potential sarcomas, a biopsy can confirm the diagnosis. A needle biopsy removes a small sample from the tumor. An incisional biopsy involves a surgery to remove a sample of the tumor. Second surgeries may be needed to remove the full tumor.
Before a doctor can make a cancer diagnosis, diagnostic tests and biopsies must be completed. However, occasionally the diagnostic tests are misread or the cancer cells are misidentified when the biopsy sample is reviewed. This failure to diagnose the cancer could result in a worsened medical condition and have an adverse effect on the patient's prognosis. A medical malpractice attorney may review the case to determine if negligence played a role. If so, it might be advisable to file a lawsuit against the at-fault healthcare practitioner.