For those with bone mets, what scan type is most often done?

Posted By
3/20/2017 2:20pm
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Replies: 10

For someone at high risk for bone mets (not melanoma, actually, but BC) - what scan type is considered the best for detecting bone mets?  If you are reluctant to get scans, which type would you choose if you did any at all?

A bone scan is typically done after a CT or PET if bone mets on the first scan are suspected. 

My first bone met (arm) was diagnosed via x-ray.  CT doesn't typically include limbs, though presumably could be requested.  At the time of diagnosis of the bone met, I already had a CT (chest, abdomen, pelvis) confirming Stage IV melanoma.  So, my guess is that x-ray would not be considered definitive, but would be a cheap (and safer) and fast way of taking an initial look.

If you really want a definitive answer and don't want to go through multiple procedures, a technetium 99 bone scan would be the most efficient and sensitive method.


Thanks guys.  Bone scan.  Not sure they would do that as a front line scan unless she had symptoms?  Given BC could go to any bones, I was just trying to figure out what would be the best choice.  She's very high risk for metastatic disease as she's had a local recurrence already and ended up quitting chemo early because of severe adverse effects.  She's been told bone mets are likely in her future and I'm just trying to help her gather a little more info.   She sounded a bit resigned as there really are no treatments if she gets bone mets.   Her BC is an aggressive type that doesn't respond to immunotherapy so her options are limited.  Just wanted to see what this group thought so I can better frame an answer for her.

Thanks again!


I'm surprised, given your history, that you would ask this question.

First off with this assumption the BC you are referring to Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Next, what makes you think , if it is Basal Cell Carcinoma, puts that person at high risk  for bone mets?

Rarely does Basal Cell Carcinoma metastisize to the bone.

Without symptoms, there is no answer for you.

With symptoms ( bone pain, muscle weakness) a Pet/CT overlay scan with and without contast should do it.

It strikes me that you are asking  a "screening" question versus a diagnostic question.


She is referring to breast cancer. I assume she is asking for a friend or family member going through it and wanted some scanning advice from those on here who have dealt with stage 4 disease, specifically bone mets, as she has not dealt with advanced cancer herself.

BC = breast cancer

BCC = basil cell carcinoma

As someone else stated, I am looking for info from stage IV who have been diagnosed with bone mets.  Since both MM and BC metastasize to bones, there is a similarity between cancers I can draw from on this site.  I know I have read differences here about how bone mets were found regarding which scans provided info.  Even when dealing with my father's bone mets from prostate cancer, I know he had a CT identify his, but he also had no symptoms.  I am curious how most had their bone mets identified.  Was is a scan or symptoms first?  And which scan.  Again, just trying to gain a little more info. 

I'm not actually sure if I'm asking a screening or a diagnostic question - a little bit of both.  Diagnostic so I understand better how to also answer a screening related question and visa versa.   This person is "assumed" to be stage IV, given a prognosis of future bone mets with no further treatment options given the type of her BC.   I'm trying to understand what, if any, scans are the best and also what, if any, benefit could be gained from doing said scans.  If I knew of a BC board like this one, I'd ask this question there. 

This is a good forum to post questions about BC:


Appreciate the link.  I knew there would be tons out there but just because there is a forum doesn't mean the replies are on target.  :)  Thanks again!

I was worried it was for you Janner.   My prayers are with the person you are helping but I am glad you are ok.    :-)