How is hemangiopericytoma diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, the most conclusive diagnostic procedure for hemangiopericytoma is a biopsy—a single tissue sample taken from the tumor through a simple surgical procedure.
The tumor's cellular appearance under a microscope enables doctors to distinguish it from other types of cancer and determine whether it is malignant or benign. Your child will likely have various imaging studies that will include one or more of the following:
- X-ray —X-rays are useful in the diagnosis of bone tumors and frequently allow physicians to distinguish benign from malignant bone tumors. It is the first diagnostic study, and often gives your doctor information regarding the need for further testing.
- Bone scans — A nuclear imaging method used to detect bone and metastatic tumors. Bone scans can determine if there are abnormalities in other bones. This test does not distinguish between tumor, infection or fractures.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) —This test outlines the extent of the tumor within the bone and joint and the relationship of the tumor to the muscles, nerves and blood vessels.
- 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, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays. It is used primarily to assess the chest and lung for metastatic tumors.
- Your child’s doctor may also ask for a complete blood count and other blood chemistry tests that can provide further help in making a diagnosis.
If your child’s doctor determines that the hemangiopericytoma is malignant, the tumor is staged. This process indicates how far the tumor has spread from its original location.
- The stage of a tumor and how aggressive the tumor is suggests which form of treatment is most appropriate, and gives some indication of the prognosis.
- A hemangiopericytoma may be localized, meaning it hasn’t spread beyond the joint where it arose or beyond nearby tissues, or metastatic, meaning it has spread to the lungs, bones or to other organs or structures of your child’s body.