The Bone Tumour Centre receives patient referrals from GP’s and external Hospitals. We also provide advice to Orthopaedic Surgeons across the country to guide biopsy of suspected tumours, especially those in hard-to-reach areas of the body. Working with Radiology and Pathology Departments we provide rapid and accurate diagnosis to inform treatment.
If you have a suspected tumour, you may undergo one or more of the following tests to assist diagnosis:
- X-ray machines use a small amount of radiation to create an image of bones, fat and muscle. Iodine or barium may be introduced to the body intravenously to improve the clarity of the picture. Xrays can highlight bone fragility and tumours. X-rays are quick and painless.
- Ultrasound uses high-frequency waves to scan the soft tissue. The process is easy and painless.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) combines x-ray and computer technology to generate graphic images of the organs, bones and tissue. CT technology is used for tumour detection, precision biopsy, image-guided surgery and tumour ablation (destruction of benign tumours using cryotherapy). CT technology may also be employed by your oncologist for the administration of neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatments.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field, radio waves and computer technology to create detailed pictures of soft tissue that can highlight the smallest abnormality. Tests are safe and painless, however, they can take up to 50 minutes to complete and can be noisy. Contrast dye may be introduced to the bloodstream intravenously, to improve picture clarity.
As bone and soft tissue tumours are rare and can form in hard-to-reach places, they can prove difficult to biopsy and resect. Accurate diagnosis is critical to effective treatment and optimal outcomes.
If a tumour mass is identified, a biopsy is required. The location of the tumour will determine how the biopsy is taken. A needle is inserted into the site of the tumour and a sample of the tissue is extracted for laboratory analysis. If the tumour is difficult to access, image-guided technology may be employed to assist.
A biopsy will confirm if the tumour is benign or malignant, and confirm the type of cancer. Tumour histology and staging will determine the surgical approach and post-operative treatment.
The Bone Tumour Centre operates a virtual advisory service for consultants nationwide to guide the safe and effective biopsy of complex and obscure tumour masses. The stage and location of the tumour will determine the approach for the best outcome.
A cancer grading determines the nature of cancer and how likely it is to spread. A low-grade classification typically indicates slow-growing cancer that is contained. A higher grading can indicate aggressive cancer that may invade local cells and metastasize (infiltrate a secondary site) to other areas of the body.
Tumour staging determines how advanced a cancer is by examing tumour size and the extent of spread.