• Bone scan

    Asked by Horselady46 on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

    Bone scan

    My primary wants me to have a bone scan to rule out metastasize cancer as I messed up my shoulder in November last year and it isn't healing. I talked with my oncologist and she dosen't think I need one as my bones do not hurt. I really don't want to do one as it involves a day and I have to take radio active stuff. Anyone been through this before.

    30 Answers from the Community

    30 answers
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      I have not had a bone scan.

      I havent ever swallowed radioactive dyes or contrasts.

      Cancer and the treatments weaken a person. I broke a rib apres treatment.

      You do as you think best. Your oncologist, BTW, has the role of orchestra leader once you have been diagnosed.

      I healed from the break. I do things to strengthen myself. Treatment weakens a person. The theory is actually to try to kill the host in the hope that the cancer dies prior to the host. I used a different theory in that I was so good to my immune system that I believe it helped to vanqyish the invader.

      It is all simply theory. I dont know what drugs they are giving you but some of them hinder the immune system.

      Ask your onc about super nutrition. Tell your primary that you dont want to swallow radioactive dye. Isnt it enough to have radiation and infusions of poisons?

      Best wishes for beginning recovery.

      6 months ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      I did have a bone scan, It was a joint decision between my neurologists and my oncologist when considering back surgery. Back surgery has been put on hold for other reasons

      6 months ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      I would think your bones would hurt if you had a metastasis to them. Everyone I know who has bone tumors has a lot of pain associated with them.

      Does your oncologist have any ideas for why your shoulder is not healing? (It seems to me that if you are still in active treatment that could have an impact on how well your body can heal itself, but I am no doctor, to say the least.)

      6 months ago
    • Horselady46's Avatar
      Horselady46

      I am on tamoxifen and that has messed up a lot of my joints. Will be off it in June. I have a lot of stuff from the chemo I had and arimidex which I stopped and then went on tamoxifen. I could have torn a ligament. Which heals very slowly.

      6 months ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      I think there is some confusion here between "bone scan" and PET scan. You don't take anything radioactive for a bone scan (aka DEXA scan), whereas you do for a PET scan. I've had both. A bone scan will reveal if you suffer from osteoporosis, which could also affect healing.

      Your profile says "Don't Know" for estrogen receptors. If you are taking an aromatase inhibitor (Arimidex (anastrozole), Aromasin (exemestane), or Femara (letrozole)), then that means your tumor was positive for estrogen receptors. Those meds thin bones, which can also delay healing.

      If you are worried about metastasis, you can ask to have your cancer markers checked via a blood test, but there's a caveat. Those tests are not recommended for early-stage cancers (which yours was) and they're not all that reliable. For example, last year after a year of climbing, one of my markers passed into the High range and stayed there for a while. (My oncologist insists on doing the tests because he says they're all he has to go by.) I had a PET scan, which was clear. The marker has since dropped back into the normal range.

      @geekling, the way I see it, the *patient* is the orchestra leader. The oncologist is the first violinist -- the one who makes sure everybody is in tune when the concert begins. :-)

      6 months ago
    • Horselady46's Avatar
      Horselady46

      The bone scan my primary wants to do does have me taking radio active stuff. I was told it was an all day thing.

      6 months ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      I had a bone scan way back in 88. I was injected with a vial of something that was taken out of a lead vault, lined with concrete. The technician opened it up, smoke came out of it like a scary movie, he reached down into it with a pair of tongs, grabbed the vial, drew it up in a syringe then found a vein in my arm and injected. I always thought it was kind of strange that he was not about to touch the stuff, and it was kept in a concrete vault, but here.....let me shoot you up with it. I'm not sure what it was, but I remember them telling me it simply made the bones show up in the screen during the scan. I also had to wait one hour to have the scan to allow the injection to circulate through my body. As the scan started, I was looking out of the corner of my eye and watching as my skeleton started to appear on the screen. It was a rather neat looking presentation. It wasn't a big deal and didn't take all day. If they think it needs to be done, I would have the scan, anything that makes it easier for them to treat us or gauge how well the treatments are doing, I'm all for.

      6 months ago
    • biga17133's Avatar
      biga17133

      Ct scan showed that tumor had metastasis to my hip bone when pain was so bad walking was hard, radiation 5 treatments on hip took care of that, i walk now with no pain there , i would think with no pain a scan would be pointless ,,but like LiveWithCancer I'm no doctor just a internet RN ..lol but believe me the pain in the bone is very bad and you not having pain makes me think that's not your issue but again we all have different reactions...good luck and may god heal you ,,still taking a bath by myself biga17133

      6 months ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      Why not request a DEXA to check for osteoporosis? If it's positive, you need to start treating it, and you will have avoided the radioactivity. It only takes a few minutes, no prep, no needles.

      I would also request bloodwork to see if you are absorbing bone-building nutrients. Estrogen blockers, undiagnosed thyroid problems, and Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone thinning.

      Wishing you the best.

      6 months ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar
      ChicagoSandy

      So you had an injured shoulder and it's not healing? Your primary says bone scan to rule out mets, your MO says unnecessary. Why not do the obvious--get a consult from an orthopedist?! After all, that's who any patient with a major musculoskeletal injury would see--stands to reason that the first thing that needs to be investigated is a stubborn soft tissue issue--rotator cuff, torn cartilage, severe muscle strain or sprain, etc.--and an MRI (which does not administer radiation) would be the most logical and least invasive first test (assuming you've had an X-ray to rule out fracture or dislocation).

      A primary care doc or GP would have the expertise to notice something is not quite right, but instead of administering advanced imaging should be referring you to someone who specializes in the structures you've injured. And your oncologist? (S)he ought to know what is and is not in her or his wheelhouse. (Mine, for instance, leaves my cholesterol management and vaccinations to my GP). Just because you are a cancer patient, it doesn't necessarily follow that every illness or injury is connected to your cancer. See the orthopod, and let them make the call as to what other than cancer can be wrong--and if they suspect mets, turf you back to your oncologist.

      The orthopod can do a bone scan: when x-rays showed my hip pain was due to a broken-off chunk of iliac crest a decade before cancer--and I was too young to have had osteoporosis--he did the scan to rule out bone cancer. The scan (which did take all day--the contrast injection, a 3-hr-break for the contrast to circulate, and then a couple of hrs. in the scan camera) showed inflammation in the area of the break--which turned out to have been exactly where seven years earlier, I had bone harvested for a graft to repair a tibial plateau fracture.

      6 months ago
    • Suzitozer's Avatar
      Suzitozer

      I have bone scans every 3-6 months. No big deal. I have metastasized cancer to the bones and I'm not in pain. I've had it 3 years, stage 4, triple negative. I go into the hospital and take the medicine. I leave and can eat and do anything but I have to return in 3 hours for the bone scan which takes about 40 mintues. Do it. If I'm going to also have a cat scan, I do it during the three hour wait.

      6 months ago
    • msesq's Avatar
      msesq

      I had a bone scan due to pain in my right leg. It didn’t take all day, I got injected with the radioactive dye, waited around for an hour and the scan was less than an hour. Turned out I had bursitis and it was a great relief.

      6 months ago
    • happydyad's Avatar
      happydyad

      I’ve had a bone scan and I was given radioactive “stuff” by IV. I have also had a DEXA scan without contrast which was more about bone density than finding cancer. The radioactive bone scan wasn’t “all day”. I got the radioactive stuff then was told to go get breakfast and drink water for 3 hours. After that it was a 20 minute scan and I was outta there. If you sit around waiting for results it really can be “all day”. If they find “hot spots” then you’re up for MRI’s with & without contrast. If the MRI finds something which mine did then you’re in for spectrography. The test “with spect” as they called it showed an “atypical hemangioma which translates into “NOT cancer”. I was THRILLED! I’ld Rather be old than have metastatic cancer. If you want the peace of mind then you should do it. If not, don’t worry about it. The scan is informational, not curative. It might let you know sooner rather than later if you do have Mets.....which you probably don’t. Best wishes to you, Horselady46! Judy in Ky

      6 months ago
    • mimistewart's Avatar
      mimistewart

      I have had three bone scans.The scan found the mets in my bones,I too have no pain. I have been on xgeva and my bones are stable .I agree the radio active stuff freaks me out too,but I guess I just weigh the odds.

      6 months ago
    • 2943's Avatar
      2943

      Due to the fact I have one kidney, my scans are not done with contrast. I am having a PET/CT next week were they will give me the sugar part in order to see if anything shows up but not the radioactive part. Hopefully not as I have had 3 primary cancers with surgeries in a year. My previous scan was no food in am, no exercise, housework for 24 hrs, contrast, be absolutely quiet for 1 hr. And a scan much like CT. I want all the info We can get to fight this.
      Ask if they will order test without radioactive dye.

      6 months ago
    • srizzuto's Avatar
      srizzuto

      I’ve had several bone scans. A radioactive dye is injected into a vein, you wait about an hour (I usually have a torso CT then), then the bone scan takes about an hour. It’s not a big deal, it’s not “all day” and it can provide great information. I had tumors all over and never had any pain and never suspected it.

      6 months ago
    • barbaraanne's Avatar
      barbaraanne

      I never had a bone scan, but have had a bone density test. For that u do nothing but lie down on the table. I had it a few years after treatment stoped due to bone pain, showed the start of osteopenia . Now I get much more pain so my dr (actually my GYN, he's the one that discovered the cancer) wants me to have another, 2 yr in between. I can't wait to get it done in May. I did break my wrist a year ago, elected to have it set in place , kept it in the cast a bit longer to avoid surgery and thank god it worked. I'm also post meno now and arthritis runs in the family. I know chemo exaggerated in pain for sure.

      6 months ago
    • gpgirl70's Avatar
      gpgirl70

      My hip has been hurting for weeks and I've been freaked out. I had stage IIIc on diagnosis and my mom is stage IV with bone mets. I check out everything. I went to my primary and she said bursitis after checking where my pain was etc. She gave me a steroid injection in the spot and ordered an x-ray for primary imaging. The x-ray showed that I have arthritis in my hip. My pain has receded since the injection so I'll wait to see if the arthritis causes trouble.

      I was freaked out for nothing. It is important to get this checked out but I would start with an ortho and other imaging first. Some insurance limits the number of these major scans so I wouldn't get a bone/pet scan unless your onco thinks it is necessary and after you have had other imaging to rule out non-cancer problems.

      6 months ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar
      ChicagoSandy

      My bone scan took so long because it was whole-body and I had to lie perfectly still while the camera moved slowly. The DEXA took about 10 min start to finish. Makes sense to start with the least invasive imaging possible--e.g., when I got hip pain (a year before cancer) the day after shoveling snow, my GP said bursitis, but sent me to the orthopedist--who did an ultrasound and found not just bursitis, but sprains of two gluteal muscles--gave me a cortisone shot and an Rx for diclofenac patches.

      6 months ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      I had a bone scan when my breast cancer markers rose during my chemo. As others said, it didn't take all day. The scan came back negative for anything. As Ejourneys says, the breast cancer markers test is not reliable; in fact, my hospital, MSKCC, no longer uses it for non-metastatic breast cancers.

      If I were you, I would listen to my oncologist right now, rather than to a PCP. See if the pain goes away. You can always get the bone scan. Why expose yourself to radiation if you may not need it? Or go to an orthopedist, as ChicagoSandy suggested.

      6 months ago
    • junie1's Avatar
      junie1

      I have bone scans,, the liquid to drink doesn't stay in the body long enough to do any harm,,, neither does the scanning, no more than exrays. Chemo did more harm than the bone scans. I myself, would do the scansm just to make sure nothing is wrong, I like a clean peace of mind., but that's just my thoughts and feelings. good luck to you

      6 months ago
    • 2943's Avatar
      2943

      Two years ago I went for a Mammo. My wonderful primary understood I wanted the whole picture in making decisions. Went for MRI that lead to CT that lead to PET. It saved my life. It showed a tumor in my kidney. In going to a major teaching hospital for second opinion re breast, she sent me to urologist. He asked how I had gotten the test so I showed him how that had happened. We caught it ‘early’ so after the kidney with tumor came out no treatment was necessary. Nine days later I had a masectomy. That same PET showed a spot on my lung. We followed it. Nothing changed for a year and a half so it was believed to be scar tissue. Then it changed, grew, and off to thoracic surgeon there who said it has to come out. Ended up having three separate, unrelated cancers caught early! I was followed by CT, X-rays, bloodwork and now will have a Pet/CT every 6 months to keep an eye on things. I cannot or should not have contrast but Monday will have test with sugar/ radiation . These save lives and those answers outweigh risk. I am very lucky so far. Fingers crossed next week!

      6 months ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      Good luck, @2943. Please let us know what you learn after your scan.

      6 months ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      2943, I agree, it's better safe than sorry, and I appreciate the way my major teaching hospital works also. I am curious about your sentence:

      "I cannot or should not have contrast but Monday will have test with sugar/ radiation." If you don't mind, can you explain what sugar/radiation refers to? Why shouldn't you have contrast?

      Thank you. I'm glad things are going well. Good luck Monday.

      6 months ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      Horselady, I know your situation puts you in the middle in an awkward situation between your doctors. You may already know this, but just in case, a Primary Care physician is usually a GP or Internist and hasn't studied or been board certified in anything other than his specialty.

      On the other hand, an Oncologist or other specialist BEGINS as an Internist, takes the test to become board certified in Internal Medicine, and then continues to train as a specialist and passes tests to become Board Certified in their specialty.

      Naturally, an Oncologist has more knowledge in their specialty than a PCP, so ask questions to explain his thinking (as you did), which was that you didn't have bone pain, and make your decision from there. Although I tend to promote PCPs because they usually have spent more time with you and know you well, when it comes to a cancer question, the Oncologist has the knowledge.

      My only other reservation is that Oncologists have to make life and death decisions every day, stay up to date in their field, and are usually very busy, which makes me add to be sure you have their attention when you ask a question. (or maybe that's just my Oncologist) BEST WISHES!

      6 months ago
    • 2943's Avatar
      2943

      Barbarain, due to having one kidney, the remaining one has to work harder. My super urologist said no contrast unless absolutely necessary. I had been having non contrast CT but thoracic surgeon believes this PET /CT will show everyone (6docs) what they need. Watching me closely is why the lung cancer stage 1. It is my understanding that I am to do no exercise today. Go way early tomorrow with only water, have the infusion of sugar/radioactive stuff, lay quietly for an hour and then have test. My previous one was at local hospital not at this big teaching hospital where I took my care way back almost 2 years ago to get a second opinion re breast cancer. Best decision I have made! Again, the PET I had in June 2016 saved my life! While I get scanxiety pre test, I want to know what is going on. Last Oct, was when the lung scar turned cancerous and emotionally along with the physical demands of major surgery devastated me. I had thought I was on the road to recovery not facing # 3. I hope I get the all clear.

      6 months ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar
      ChicagoSandy

      PET scans measure the amount of glucose taken up by various tissues, and the tracer makes those areas "light up."

      6 months ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      Chicago Sandy and 2943, thank you both for the info.
      I hadn't ever heard anyone say anything about sugar being injected. I'm having a CT scan tomorrow, and I've always wondered why I don't feel good afterwards.

      My clinic has ordered different things for patients to drink since I've been getting scans. The one they have now tastes like water, and patients only need to fast for 2 hours beforehand.

      6 months ago
    • 2943's Avatar
      2943

      Just make sure to drink lots of water after test. Like 30+ oz. to flush it faster. I learned how much after I kept getting headaches. Good luck!

      6 months ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar
      ChicagoSandy

      The contrast medium for CT or MRI scans, unlike that for PET scans, is not sugar-based.

      6 months ago

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