The body is made up of 206 bones (we counted), and bones are made up of mineral calcium and different types of cells. These cells continuously break down and form new bone. Primary bone cancer starts in the bone, while the more common secondary bone cancer spreads to the bone from somewhere else in the body. Radiological tests to find and diagnose bone cancer include X-rays, bone scans, and skeletal surveys.
When a patient experiences pain that could potentially be the result of bone cancer, the first step in diagnosis is usually to X-ray the area near the pain. When enough of the healthy bone in any area is worn away by cancer, the damaged area will show up as a dark spot on the X-ray; these appear like holes in the bones.
A more comprehensive test used to diagnose bone cancer is a type of X-ray called a bone scan. In this test, low doses of radioactive particles are injected intravenously, circulating through the body and selectively picked up by the bones. The substance travels through the bloodstream to the bones and organs. As it wears away, it emits levels of radiation. This radiation is detected by a camera that slowly scans the body. The camera takes pictures of how much radiation collects in the bones. A high concentration of these radioactive particles indicates the presence of cancer cells that are rapidly growing.
In order to diagnose lesions where extra bone has built up, a skeletal survey, a certain form of X-ray, may be used. Normally an X-ray is selective for a particular area of concern, but with a skeletal survey, all areas are imaged with a full body scan PET scan. Patients such as those with multiple myeloma or breast cancer for example undergo these skeletal surveys to detect bone metastases that have not yet developed symptoms observable through other means. Full body CT scan and MRI Miami scan options may also be used for skeletal surveys.
In some cases it may be appropriate to take a bone biopsy for further analysis. Either a needle biopsy or an incisional biopsy may be useful for diagnosing bone cancer. In a needle biopsy, a surgeon makes a small hole in the bone and removes a sample of tissue from the affected area with a needle like instrument. In an incisional biopsy, the surgeon cuts into the affected area, removing a small sample of tissue. The tissue is then sent to a lab for further analysis to determine whether it is cancerous or benign.
Treatment options for bone cancer will depend on the type of bone cancer that is present, how far and how fast it has spread, and the patient’s age and general health. Radiologists at the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, a digital medical imaging center, will discuss all available treatment options. Three main treatment options: surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy will be discussed to find the right course of action per patient.