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Methods to diagnose bone cancer – Imaging Tests

A patient’s symptoms, physical exam, imaging tests, and bloodtests may suggest that bone cancer is present. A discussion with the doctor about the patient’s personal and family medical history is done.

Imaging Tests

– X rays : It can show the location, size, and shape of a bone tumor. If x-rays suggest that a tumor may be cancer, the doctor may recommend special imaging tests such as a bone scan, a CT (or CAT) scan, an MRI, or an angiogram.
– Computed Tomography (CT scan) : It is similar to X ray and creates a detailed cross-sectional image of the body.
– Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) : This test uses radio waves and strong magnets to reveal a complete image of a targeted area of the body. It is one of the most conclusive tests for bone cancer because it clearly outlines the bone tumors.
– Positron Emission Tomography (PET) : It uses radioactive glucose which contains a radioactive atom that is absorbed by the cancerous cells and then detected by a special camera. This is usually done when the doctor feels that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
– Bone scan : It is a test that identifies areas of rapidly growing or remodeling bone.
– Radionuclide Bone Scan : This type of scan uses a very low radioactive material (diphosphonate) to “see” whether or not the cancer has spread to other bones and the damage suffered by the bone. Affected areas appear as dense, gray to black spots on the scan image. The main disadvantage of this test is that cancer, arthritis, infection, or other bone diseases display a similar pattern.

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