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Bone scan for bone cancer

What is a bone scan?

A bone scan is an imaging test that can detect cancerous cells, evaluate fractures in the bones, and monitor other bone conditions, such as infections and arthritis. During a bone scan, a small dose of radioactive material is injected into a vein, where it travels through the bloodstream. The material collects in the bones and is detected by a scanner using nuclear imaging to reveal cell activity and function in the bones.

A bone scan can detect cancer that has metastasized to the bone from a different primary site, such as the breast, prostate or lungs. It may also be used to evaluate bone health before treatment.

Bone scan medical animation

Video: Bone Scan Medical Animation

Medical animation

Bone scan for bone cancer

For bone cancer, a radionuclide bone scan might be used to diagnose and stage the disease.

This bone cancer detection tool can reveal if the primary tumor has spread to other places in the bone, and how much damage it has done. In a bone scan, a small dose of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel, where it travels through the bloodstream. The material then gathers in the bones and is detected by a scanner through nuclear imaging. This test is very sensitive and can often find small metastases before they would appear on a regular X-ray. However, other conditions such as arthritis or infection look similar on the scan, so a confirmatory biopsy is often needed.

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