Testing & Diagnosis for Childhood Cancers in Children

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Contact the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center

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
  • imaging scans,  including x-raysmagnetic resonance imaging (MRI),computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan), positron emission tomography/CT (also called a PET/CT scan) and bone scans  produce detailed images of the inside of the body
  • bone marrow biopsy/aspiration - a procedure that involves a small amount of bone marrow fluid and tissue to be taken, usually from part of the hip bones, to further examine the number, size and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells
  • 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 and determine if any tumor cells have started to spread. In young children, this procedure is safely performed under sedation.
  • chromosome analysis and other genetic testing – samples of tumor, blood and bone marrow can be sent to a special laboratory to look for certain changes, or mutations, in the chromosomes of  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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