Can bone scans differentiate between metastatic disease and pelvic fractures?

Last Modified: January 14, 2004

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Can a bone scan differentiate between changes due to an accident vs. cancer? A urologist scheduled the bone scan for my father who had a pelvic fracture in an accident after treatment for prostate cancer. 

Answer

Alan J. Wein, MD, Professor and Chair of the Division of Urology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, responds:

A bone scan really screens the entire skeleton for the presence of any area with abnormal activity. Bone scans can't always distinguish the differences between benign abnormalities (such as previous trauma) and cancer, but other imaging studies can be used to further classify a suspicious area on bone scan. In addition, there are certain patterns on a bone scan that are typical of metastatic disease. It is important you let your physicians know of any previous trauma so it can be correlated with any abnormalities on the bone scan and confirmed with other radiology studies.



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