How is rhabdomyosarcoma diagnosed?
Your child's doctor will do a complete medical and physical examination. In addition, some or all of these tests will be prescribed:
- blood and urine tests - including a complete blood count
multiple imaging studies - to evaluate the primary tumor and determine the extent/location of any spreading, including:
- Computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) - a CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles and fat.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a test that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
- X-ray - a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs.
- Ultrasound (also called sonography) - ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.
- 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.
- bone marrow biopsy and/or aspiration - a procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid and tissue, usually from part of the hip bones, to examine the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.
spinal tap/lumbar puncture - a procedure that involves inserting a special needle through the lower back into the spinal canal, the area around the spinal cord. The pressure in the spinal canal and brain can then be measured.
- A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there is an infection or other problems. CSF is the fluid that bathes your child's brain and spinal cord.
- biopsy - a sample taken of the primary tumor and/or metastatic lesions.
Staging the tumor
Diagnosing rhabdomyosarcoma also involves staging and classifying the disease, which will help your child's doctor determine treatment options and prognosis. Staging is the process of determining whether cancer has spread and, if so, how far.
There are various staging systems that can be used for rhabdomyosarcoma. Talk to your child's physician for information on staging.