The diagnostic value of bone scan in patients with renal cell carcinoma

J Urol. 2001 Dec;166(6):2126-8.


Purpose: Bone scan is performed as part of the evaluation of bone metastasis. We assessed the diagnostic value of bone scan in patients with renal cell carcinoma.

Materials and methods: Bone scan was performed at presentation in 205 patients with confirmed renal cell carcinoma. Abnormal hot areas were further evaluated by x-ray, computerized tomography or surgery.

Results: Of the 56 patients (27%) with an abnormal bone scan 32 (57%) had osseous metastatic lesions. Overall bone metastasis was present in 34 of the 205 patients (17%). Bone scan had 94% sensitivity and 86% specificity. Of the 124 patients with clinically localized, stages T1-2N0M0 disease exclusive of bone metastasis 6 (5%) had bone metastasis only, whereas 28 of 81 (35%) with locally advanced or metastatic disease had bone metastasis, including 12 (35%) who complained of bone pain and 19 (56%) who presented with other symptoms due to local tumor growth or metastasis at other sites. Three patients (9%) were asymptomatic. There was osseous metastasis without other metastasis, enlarged regional lymph nodes or bone pain in 7 patients, including 1 with stage T1b (2% of all with that stage), 2 with stage T2 (5%), 1 with stage T3a (4%), 1 with stage T3b (6%), 1 with stage T3c (14%) and 1 with stage T4 (6%) disease.

Conclusions: Bone scan may be omitted in patients with stages T1-3aN0M0 tumors and no bone pain because of the low proportion of missed cases with bone metastasis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / secondary*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity