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Bone Scan vs Bone Density test

Posts: 31
Joined: Aug 2010

I had a bilateral mastectomy almost a year ago and then chemotherapy which ended in August 2010.

I'm currently continuing with Herceptin treatments until April 2011 every 3 weeks.

My oncologist had me scheduled for a Bone Scan but then changed it to a Bone Density test.

These are very different tests.... has anyone had a bone scan after breast cancer??
Should I ask to have one?? Or is the bone density enough??

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

I really don't know but I thought they were the same...but appearntly not...I just had bone density for 2 yr in a row...I only had Radiation..but I THOUGHT More to do with my age..51 now...



Boppy_of_6's picture
Posts: 1138
Joined: Apr 2010

I had a dexa scan done after chemo because osteoporosis is thick on my Mom's side of the family. I know my mother has the bone density scans done yearly for the osteoporosis so I am not real sure what the difference is. I was just no help huh! God Bless
(((Hugs))) Janice

Posts: 124
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi Joyyee1
I have had both scans done, and as you mentioned these are very different.
I had a bone scan looking for cancer before my surgery last year, and I have yearly dexa scans because I have Osteoporosis (diagnosed early nineties) take meds to help increase bone mass as well as meds to prevent cancer. The Aromasin reduces bone density.
Have you been diagnosed with Osteoporosis ? I never had herceptin, wonder if it reduces bone density ? Hopefully someone will answer your question soon, much better than I can, why don't you call and ask the Onc nurse, and let us know what was said.
Best wishes

Angie2U's picture
Posts: 2992
Joined: Sep 2009

I had a bone scan done to see if the cancer had gone to my bones. It was the easiest test ever and I got to leave all of my clothes on. LOL Mine was clean, thank God.

I think bone density is to see how your bones are doing, like if Osteoporosis is in your body.

Two very different tests and the bone density has nothing to do with cancer that I know of.

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005


Hugs, Kathi

Posts: 83
Joined: Dec 2010

I am going for bone scan on Tuesday and Pet scan on Thursday. Just diagnosed in November---confused and scared.

My Doctor has scheduled surgery for January.

Posts: 3659
Joined: Aug 2009

I've been getting Bone Density Tests for probably 15 years. I was 44 (end of 1990/early 1991)when I went through natural menopause and there is a history of a lot osteoporosis on both sides of my family so my PA has been testing me annually for years. So far, even with 2 batches of chemo, rads and Femara, my density is staying constant though it could be a bit higher. If i remember correctly only my lower body, hips and upper leg bones are scanned as they are supposed to be the first to show density lose - I could be wrong but that's what I think I remember.

Bone scan checks for any change in the bones. The bone scan I had before starting Chemo showed something 'hot' along my right lower jaw bone. Had to see an ENT specialist who biopsied the area which came back negative for cancer, which is what he expected as there was no indication of cancer in the area aas far as he could see in exam. He couldn't explain why it had showed 'hot' on the scan but said that probably I had had a very small irritation in the area at the time of the Bone Scan or else there was a 'blip' in the scan.


DianeBC's picture
Posts: 3886
Joined: Jun 2009

I had a bone scan when I complained of pain in my back. My oncologist requested one right away to see if I had mets to my bones. I didn't! YEH!

A bone density test isn't for cancer. Everyone explained it better than I can. LOL

Good luck!

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

The bone density test is used to check the health of your bones (which can suffer because of treatments and disease). A bone density test is the gold standard for diagnosing osteoporosis.

The bone scan is usually used to diagnose breast cancer metastais to bone. It can be done for other reasons, but, for most of us, that is why the docs do them. My doc did not do one though until I began having the rib pain and my CT scan was abnormal. My bone scan in 2009 showed bone mets to the ribs.

Posts: 31
Joined: Aug 2010

Thanks for all the replies. I heard back from the DR and the scheduler had made a mistake. I am to have a bone density test this week which looks for osteoporosis.
The bone SCAN looks for cancer in the bone.

Breast cancer can metastasize to the bone....

Hopefully mine has not at this point!

Marcia527's picture
Posts: 2749
Joined: Jul 2006

I had a bone scan a year or so after treatment because I was having hip pain and they wanted to rule out cancer. Never found out what caused it but it wasn't cancer.

Ritzy's picture
Posts: 4382
Joined: Aug 2009

Everyone already explained the difference between the tests. Just wishing you good luck!

Sue :)

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

Chemo/treatment for the rectal cancer left me full on osteoporotic...this sees how the Actonel/calcium is working....

One of the potential side effects of the AI's (arrimidex, etc) can be osteoporosis...this scan makes sure that it's not happening, or if it is, there are treatments.

My bones are the same as a 90-year-old woman...so I need to be careful. I don't FEEL bad...just good to know...so I won't do something like...oh, I don't know...skating on the canal outside our house in The Netherlands (oh, wait, I did that last winter, and may again this winter...ROFL!).

DEXA is very painless, and you can stay dressed.

Hugs, Kathi

carkris's picture
Posts: 4554
Joined: Aug 2009

Kathi stay off the canal or have lots of padding!!!!!!!!!!!

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