Can an Ultrasound Detect Soft Tissue Sarcoma?

One of the many tests that can support a diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma is an ultrasound. Tumour location and size are depicted in detail in the images produced by ultrasounds. Treatment planning can also be done with these photos.

A soft tissue sarcoma is a type of malignant tumour that develops on the body's soft connective tissues, such as blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and joint lining.

One of the many tests used by medical professionals to confirm a diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma is an ultrasound. High-frequency sound waves are used in this imaging technique to get detailed pictures of tumour growth on soft tissues.

This article delves deeper into the ultrasound appearance of soft tissue sarcomas and the other tests that physicians may order to confirm a diagnosis.

What do soft tissue sarcomas look like on an ultrasound?

Sound waves are used in an ultrasound to produce images. It can aid physicians in the diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma in a few different ways. For example, it can assist in identifying and evaluating the size, location, and form of tumours on soft tissues.

An ultrasound's data can be used by medical professionals to diagnose and stage soft tissue sarcomas.

The accuracy of ultrasounds is usually the deciding factor. On ultrasonography, sarcoma tumours provide more characteristic pictures than on radiography. In 80–90% of cases, soft tissue sarcoma tumours can be found with ultrasound.

Ultrasound scans of soft tissue sarcoma tumours frequently reveal the following characteristics:
  • many visible blood vessels
  • an oval, round, or double-lobed shape
  • uneven margins
  • a size larger than 46 millimeters (1.18 inches)
  • a location deep in a tissue
Yet not every soft tissue sarcoma possesses these characteristics. When ultrasonography fails to reveal these features in suspected soft tissue sarcoma tumours, medical practitioners may choose to conduct further tests.

Additionally, ultrasounds are occasionally employed in a process known as an ultrasound-guided needle biopsy.

The ultrasonography images will be used by the doctors to guide a needle into the tumour during this treatment. Next, a sample of the tumour will be removed so that its cancerous cells can be examined. This may support a soft tissue sarcoma diagnosis.

Can an ultrasound tell the difference between sarcoma and lipoma?

A lipoma and a sarcoma can frequently be distinguished with the use of an ultrasound. Due to their sensitivity, ultrasounds can produce incredibly detailed images. Usually, they can distinguish between a lipoma and a sarcoma. Further testing and imaging, though, might be required.

Which other tests are performed by physicians to confirm a soft tissue sarcoma diagnosis?

If your doctor thinks you have soft tissue sarcoma, you may have a biopsy, imaging tests, and a physical examination. The diagnostic procedure frequently includes the following tests:
  • X-ray: An initial imaging test that can help search for tumours and other growths within your body is an X-ray.
  • CT scan: Three-dimensional images of your interior body are produced by a CT scan. It can assist medical professionals in determining the tumour's size and tracking its growth.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Magnetic fields are used in MRI scans to produce incredibly detailed images of the interior of your body. They help doctors plan treatments and obtain a precise estimate of the size of tumours.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A PET scan is a test in which your body is imaged using a CT scan after a medical practitioner injects a small quantity of a unique radioactive sugar material into your body. This material will be absorbed by cancer cells, making them apparent on CT scans.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is taking out a tiny sample of the tumour so that cancerous cells may be examined in a lab. The location of your soft tissue sarcoma will determine the precise kind of biopsy you require. For example, in certain biopsies, a needle is inserted into the tumour to collect a sample, whereas, in other biopsies, an incision is made in your skin to remove all or part of the tumour for testing.
  • Tissue testing: To determine which genes are present in sarcoma cells, tissue testing is carried out in a lab. Physicians can use it to plan treatments.
Which tests you need more may depend on where your soft tissue sarcoma is located.

For instance, your doctor may prescribe a mammography if they think you have a soft tissue sarcoma in your breast tissue. They may request a bone scan if they think there may be a soft tissue sarcoma in a joint.

Which of these further tests, if any, you might require can be explained by your doctor.


One of the many procedures that medical experts can run to determine the diagnosis of a soft tissue sarcoma is an ultrasound.

Doctors can see the location, size, and form of tumours thanks to the incredibly detailed images produced by ultrasounds. This can assist them in making a diagnosis and starting the treatment plan.

You may require further testing, such as tissue testing, a biopsy, and additional imaging (such as a CT, MRI, or PET scan).


What is the best scan for sarcoma?

Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET-CT scan

Can ultrasound detect sarcoma or lipoma?

Ultrasound can be used to distinguish between lipoma and liposarcoma.

How is soft tissue sarcoma diagnosed?

Usually, the first test performed, an ultrasound scan is quick and easy. Later on, other scans might be performed, including an MRI.

Can ultrasound rule out liposarcoma?

Liposarcoma can be seen on ultrasound.

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