What is included in the physical exam to evaluate soft-tissue tumors?

Updated: Dec 03, 2018
  • Author: Vinod B Shidham, MD, FRCPath; Chief Editor: Omohodion (Odion) Binitie, MD  more...
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Physical examination can be used to determine the location and size of a mass and to exclude other, more common causes of pain. Whether the mass is deep or subcutaneous, transilluminates (cysts), and adheres to underlying structures also can be gleaned from physical examination. Regional lymph nodes should be examined as well. Neurovascular examination is useful for the detection of either primary or secondary tumor involvement.

Extremity masses larger than 5-7 cm and deeper than subcutaneous tissue favor a diagnosis of a malignant soft-tissue tumor. However, as many as 30% of soft-tissue sarcomas occur in subcutaneous tissue and exhibit relatively less aggressive behavior. [20]

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