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A bone scan is used to detect breast cancer that has spread to the bone. Through medical imaging, low doses of radioactive dye are injected into the vein to detect if cancer is present. A bone scan is essential since breast cancer has a predilection to spread to the bone and can go undetected for years.
Bone Scan Procedure
The bone scan is conducted over a series of hours beginning with an injection of a radioactive solution. This substance takes several hours to be absorbed by your bones before the scan can begin. During the bone scan, a gamma camera passes over your body, recording patterns of the radioactive substance being absorbed by your bones. This process can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to complete.
Once the procedure is complete, the radiologist will examine the bone scan for abnormalities. These abnormalities are depicted through darker and lighter shaded regions on the bone scan, where the radioactive solution has either accrued or not. This process can take several days and is often outsourced to a diagnostic service.
Cancer is spread from the breast to the bone when cells break away from the tumor and travel through the bloodstream or lymph vessel to other parts of the body. This is called bone metastases. Approximately 25 percent of breast cancer patients will have cancer spread to the bone. The regions of the body most likely to be affected are the ribs, skull, pelvis, and spine with long bones in the arms and the legs being the most vulnerable.
It is important to be aware of the symptoms of bone metastases. Bone metastases can cause pain, spinal cord compression, high blood calcium levels, and other severe problems such as bone fractures. Anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer should take the precautionary methods of further testing such as a bone scan to prevent late detection of more severe complications.
Contact A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Near You
A bone scan is a painless, necessary, and efficient procedure for those who are suffering from breast cancer. Contact your doctor regarding your questions and concerns about the bone scan procedure. If you are a survivor of breast cancer, please contact us to learn more about your breast recontruction options with a qualified surgeon in your area.