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Symptoms of Bone Tumors and Soft Tissue Tumors

Symptoms of bone and soft tissue tumors can be hard to identify and assess. It's important for your child to see a doctor if you notice a physical change, such as a lump, or if you child complains of pain. In general:

  • Pain is the most common symptom of bone tumors. It is common for a child who has a malignant bone tumor to complain about pain for a month or two before seeing a doctor. Finding malignant bone tumors early is very important because early treatment is more likely to be successful.
  • The most common symptom of soft tissue tumors is the appearance of a soft tissue mass. Often, soft tissue tumors do not cause any pain.

Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Diagnosis

How we diagnose your child depends on what we find out as we explore their condition.

In nine out of 10 children, we can see and evaluate benign bone tumors by taking an X-ray of the bone.

This lesion in a 16-year old boy involving the elbow joint is hard to see on conventional radiographs but readily imaged by MRI (red arrow). Courtesy of Practice of Pediatric Orthopedics, 2001 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

This lesion in a 16-year old boy involving the elbow joint is hard to see on conventional radiographs but readily imaged by MRI (red arrow).

If an X-ray does not provide enough information about a tumor, whether it is in bone or in soft tissue, we may ask your child to have more extensive imaging tests, starting with an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan.

If we suspect your child may have a malignant bone tumor, we may also ask for:

  • Bone scan
  • CT (computed tomography) scanof the lungs to make sure tumors have not spread there
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography) to help us judge how the tumor is growing.

If these imaging tests suggest that the tumor may be cancer, we will ask your child to have a tumor biopsy. In the hospital, a doctor will remove a small piece of the tumor and examine it under a microscope for signs of cancer.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)