Bone Scan Prostate Cancer – You Certainly Didn’t Know This Much About It

October 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer

Bone scans are often conducted for prostate cancer patients in order to determine bone metastasis of the disease. When prostate cancer has been in the prostate for a while, it grows and then starts to spread. This spread is often to other parts of the body like the lymphatic system, and the spine, and the bones of the skeletal system, causing other complications and symptoms and generally making life uncomfortable for the patient.

For some reason, metastasis prostate cancer cells have an affinity for the bones of the skeletal system, and they commonly attack them. Bone pain in the pelvis, vertebrae, ribs, and perhaps in the proximal part of the femur are the most common symptoms that arise from advanced prostate cancer.

It is however not to uncommon to have the cancer attack other parts of the skeletal system such as the feet and the skull. The same bone metastasis of the disease could invade the spinal column such that the spinal cord is compressed, leading to further symptoms like leg weakness and fecal and urinary incontinence.

The radionuclide bone scan is how bone metastasis is determined so as to establish precisely how much the cancer has attacked the bones, which bones have been attacked, and the extent of the damage done to them. The bone scan also finds bone fractures that do not show up on bone x-rays; identifies areas of bone that are damaged by infection or other bone conditions; and evaluates areas that appear abnormal on other tests like the x-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

During the procedure a small amount of radioactive tracer material is injected into the bloodstream, which is safe for the patient but gives off low levels of radioactivity that can be detected by a special type of camera known as a gamma camera. The tracer material is preferentially absorbed by the bones over a period that typically takes a few hours before the material is appropriately absorbed. Because of that it is done early in the morning and the pictures are taken later that morning or in the afternoon. The best part is that the test is entirely painless.

If it turns out that the tracer material is evenly dispersed throughout the bones, a normal bone scan will be revealed in the results. This implies that there is no problem and that there is no cancer in the bones. If there are however regions of darkness to depict higher bone concentration (hot spots) and regions of lower concentration to show where the bones have lost some mass (cold spots), they are the ones that that reveal the extent of damage to the bones.

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