How are Sarcomas Diagnosed?


A sarcoma diagnosis is usually determined through a combination of the following methods:

  • Physical exam - Your doctor will note your symptoms and may inquire about your medical history, your family's health history, and determine if you have any other risk factors for developing the disease
  • Imaging tests - CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs can be used to locate tumors within the body and determine their size and growth rate
  • Biopsy - A tumor sample of abnormal cell tissue can confirm the presence of cancer. Depending on the site, a tissue sample could be removed with a needle or cut away through a surgical procedure. 
  • Bone scan - If bone sarcoma (osteosarcoma) is suspected. This involves a tiny amount of radioactive material being injected that can show up as cancer on a specialized scanner.

How are Sarcomas Treated?


The protocol for your sarcoma treatment will depend on the type of sarcoma, location, age, overall health, and comfort levels. For many cases, the treatment plan can consist of a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.


Surgery is often required to remove cancerous tumors. Surgeons will typically aim to resect the entire tumor with a margin of healthy tissue to avoid local recurrence.

Surgical situations for sarcomas can include:

  • Limb-sparing surgery can nearly always be performed to preserve arm or leg function
  • Reconstructive surgery may be required during or after cancer removal to restore the appearance and functionality of the affected area


Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill or control the growth of cancer cells. At NewYork-Presbyterian, a genetic analysis of your tumor is performed in order to match you with the drugs that will target the pathways contributing to cancer's growth.

Chemotherapy is typically administered in two ways:

  • Infusion therapies - Chemotherapy drugs are administered through an IV in NewYork-Presbyterian's modern infusion suites
  • Oral medications - People with certain sarcomas can take anticancer drugs in pill form, such as pazopanib, imatinib, sunitinib, and regorafenib

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy delivers targeted radiation beams directly to the tumor, sparing nearby healthy tissue. It is often used with chemotherapy and before or after surgery as a sarcoma treatment.

NewYork-Presbyterian offers the following forms of radiation therapy:

  • External radiation treatments - Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and other forms of external radiation can deliver highly-focused radiation beams shaped to the contours of your tumor, sparing nearby healthy tissues and reducing your risk of side effects
  • Radiation during surgery - Large doses of radiation are administered after the tumor is removed, before the wound is closed
  • Internal radiation or brachytherapy - Small pellets (or seeds) of radioactive material are placed in or near cancer using thin catheters (tubes). The pellets deliver high doses of radiation. This treatment can happen over minutes or over days.

Clinical trials for sarcoma

Clinical trials evaluate new approaches to caring for people with soft tissue sarcomas. Many of these studies evaluate targeted therapies and immunotherapies—treatments that boost the immune system's power to find and destroy sarcoma cells. Your doctor will inform you if you are eligible to participate in a promising new therapy clinical trial.



A sign of sarcoma can be a painless lump that develops under the skin in the arm, leg, torso, or abdomen. The mass could be firm or soft but doesn't typically alter the look of the skin.

The growth rate of sarcomas is highly variable. Sarcomas may become noticeably larger over weeks, months, or years.

Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Sarcoma Care

NewYork-Presbyterian has nationally-recognized doctors and oncologists with experience treating many forms of sarcoma. Our experts will expertly identify any symptoms or signs of sarcoma and provide you with a comprehensive diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. If you think you have symptoms of sarcoma, don't hesitate to contact us for an appointment.