Many tests and procedures are needed on children who have suspected signs and symptoms of RMS. The exact combination of tests will help to determine if and where cancer cells are present in the body. Your child’s oncologist will use some of the following procedures to identify the extent of the disease:
- Examination of the site of the tumor: The tumor site can be examined by imaging studies, such as an MRI, to determine the size and exact location of the tumor, as well as any potential spread through the body.
- Biopsy: The only way to determine the exact tumor type is by removing a piece of the tumor and having a pathologist examine it under the microscope. This is known as a biopsy. In some cases, the primary tumor can be completely removed at the same time. Under the microscope, RMS can look similar to several other types of children’s cancers such as neuroblastoma, Ewing sarcoma, and lymphoma. It is very important to be absolutely sure about the cancer cell type before deciding on a treatment plan.
- Examination of the body for signs the tumor has spread: The common sites of metastasis (spread of the cancer cells) include the lungs, bone marrow and bones. Some of the common tests that may be used for evaluation include: