Diagnostic bone scanning in oncology

Semin Nucl Med. 1997 Apr;27(2):107-41. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2998(97)80043-8.


Over the last several decades bone scanning has been used extensively in the evaluation of oncology patients to detect bone involvement. It can provide information about disease location, prognosis, and the effect of therapy. Bone scanning offers the advantages of whole body evaluation and the detection of lesions earlier than other techniques. However, as newer diagnostic tools become available, indications for bone scanning must be revised and the results combined with these other tests in order to provide optimum patient care. Advances in instrumentation and the subsequent improvement in image quality have allowed nuclear medicine physicians to provide more accurate bone scan interpretations. By optimizing image acquisition, it is often possible to determine lesion characteristics, which are more likely to represent malignancy. Knowledge of disease pathophysiology and other specific properties of the patient's primary tumor, along with subsequent correlation of scan abnormalities to patient history, physical examination, previous studies, and other radiological examinations, is essential for determining lesion significance. The differential diagnosis of a scan abnormality should also include consideration of both false normal and abnormal causes. The final interpretation should be clearly communicated to the clinician with appropriate recommendations for further evaluation. Only through careful attention to the patient, the clinician, and appropriate study acquisition parameters will bone scanning maintain its place in the evaluation of oncology patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / economics
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neuroblastoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods