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Bone Cancer Detection


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Bone cancer detection is primarily done to predict the existence of bone cancer. It will help in the detection of the stage of the bone cancer, its extent of spreading and the location that it has affected. Most importantly early detection helps in deciding the treatment, follow up and management of the bone cancer.

Bone Cancer Detection There are a number of cases where family physicians or orthopedists fail to detect bone cancer. Tumors and nodes formation, in case of bone cancer, is limited to the bone structure or may reside deep inside the bone. Thus there are no outwards visible signs for family doctors to detect. The only sign of bone cancer may be pain. Such pain is often followed by weakness or fatigue, stomach or gastrointestinal disorders or fractures. These are mistaken as signs of arthritis or aging. Thus the bone cancer may go unnoticed for a long period. Hence it is important to conduct deeper diagnosis with the help of your pathologist or local hospital.

Some common tests for detection of bone cancer are MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, X-ray, alkaline phosphatase tests, various blood tests, bone scans and bone lesion biopsy.

X-Ray: X-ray is an imaging technique which uses high intensity electromagnetic radiation to obtain images of body. X-rays cannot penetrate harder substances like bones. They are therefore useful to detect bone degeneration, bone fractures as well as various bone deformities and bone disorders. In case of bone cancer it can help in detection of bone tumors. It is one of the most widely used tests in detection of bone cancers, that, show hardened bone tumors. If soft tissues around the bone are to be observed barium sallow x-ray or fluoroscopic x-ray is taken. This is achieved by injecting the body with barium salts, which act as contrast materials.

X-ray procedure is simple. One should not wear metallic objects on one's body while taking the x-ray pictures. Some doctors may advise pregnant women to wear a protective clothing to shield them from any residual x-ray radiation.

X-ray detection rules out conditions such as rickets, Paget's disease, accidental fractures and osteomyelitis and multiple myeloma

Alkaline phosphatase tests: Alkaline phosphatase (AP) is created in the bones, kidney, bile and liver. AP tests are used to measure the presence of the AP enzyme. For this test, a small volume of your blood is extracted using a needle and syringe. The elbow or arm area is disinfected with alcohol and the needle is pierced into the body. The blood sample is extracted and the wound is sealed with a cotton swab.

If alkaline phosphatase level is high i.e. above 44 - 147 IU/L or international units per liter, it could mean bone disorders such as osteoblastic bone cancers, anemia and other bone diseases are present. Your doctor may then advise you to undergo a bone scan or bone biopsy

Bone lesion biopsy: Bone lesion biopsy is used to differentiate cancerous and non cancerous cells. It can help to identify a wide variety of bone cancers from osteoblastoma, fibroma, osteosarcoma, steoid osteoma, multiple myeloma to ewing's sarcoma. Bone lesion biopsy requires removal of a small piece of bone structure. It is done by making a small cut and then inserting a special needle into the bone and then removing the piece. Patient is given anesthesia before the procedure.

The sample piece is studied using microscopic techniques to understand the presence of cancerous cells. The side effects of this test could be pain, inflammation and possible infection. However, nowadays, this procedure has become fairly accurate and is easily manageable.

Bone scan:Bone scan or bone scintigraphy uses radioactive or nuclear material like Technetium-medronic-acid to obtain images. The nuclear material works as radiotracer. Difference in the material immediately after injection and after a few hours of injection can predict the presence of bone diseases. It can clearly show bone metabolism

MRI, CT scan, blood tests (complete blood count or full blood count) and urine tests are also useful in detecting the presence of cancer. Early screening using genetic techniques can also save you from hereditary case of bone cancer. Bone cancer detection is thus an important aspect of bone cancer treatment. Remember early detection can save you from fatal complications.

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