Testing & Diagnosis for Cancer in Children

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The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis. Your child’s physician may order a number of different tests to determine if your child has cancer and its specific type and location. These include:

  • physical examination
     
  • blood tests
     
  • urine tests
  • lymph node biopsy - a sample of tissue is removed from a lymph node and examined under a microscope
  • tumor biopsy or tissue sample from the tumor to provide definitive information about the type of tumor; this is collected during surgery
  • lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and determine if any tumor cells have started to spread. In young children, this procedure is safely performed under sedation.
     
  • chromosome analysis – samples of blood and bone marrow can be sent to a special laboratory to look for certain changes in the chromosomes of the cancer cells

After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.


We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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