In a biopsy, a piece of tissue is taken from a bone or soft tissue tumor
so it can be analyzed to make an exact diagnosis and, if the tumor is
aggressive or cancerous, to grade
the tumor. Precise diagnosis and tumor grading are essential for
selecting and tailoring the most effective treatment.
At the Musculoskeletal Tumor Center, the vast majority of biopsies are
performed by an experienced orthopaedic surgical oncologist using a
procedure known as an open (or surgical) biopsy.
In this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the skin to
reach the tumor. Every biopsy is carefully planned based on the type of
tumor that is suspected and its size, location, and appearance on
imaging. Either a piece of the tumor is removed (incisional biopsy) or,
in cases of a small soft tissue tumor, the entire tumor is removed
On rare care occasions when a tumor is not easily accessible by open
biopsy, an interventional radiologist will perform a CT-guided core
biopsy to obtain tumor tissue for evaluation.
How a Biopsy Is Done Matters
Studies show that it is important for a musculoskeletal tumor biopsy to
be done by a surgeon who is experienced in diagnosing and treating bone
and soft tissue tumors. The surgeon also should be the same surgeon who
will operate to remove the tumor if it is cancerous. This ensures that
the biopsy incision is accurately placed and that adequate tissue is
obtained to confirm a diagnosis. An incorrectly placed or performed
biopsy can cause delays in treatment, make it harder or impossible to
perform a limb-sparing procedure, and cause the cancer to spread.
Learn about the surgeon’s role in musculoskeletal tumor diagnosis and
To schedule an appointment at the Musculoskeletal Tumor Center, call
1.866.CALL.MLH or use the online
appointment request form. Instructions for new patients are
Lankenau Cancer Center
Schedule an appointment with a Lankenau cancer specialist:
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.