Bone Cancer Diagnosis
When making a diagnosis of bone cancer, the process generally involves a physical exam, questions about a person's personal and family medical history, and certain tests and procedures that examine the bone. Tests and procedures that are used to make a diagnosis include (but are not limited to) blood tests, x-rays, computed tomography scans, and biopsies.
Diagnosing Bone Cancer: An IntroductionIf a person has potential bone cancer symptoms, the doctor will need to perform a physical exam and ask about the patient's personal and family medical history. In order to make a diagnosis, the doctor will also recommend additional tests and procedures that examine the bones.
The Role of the Physical Exam and History in a Bone Cancer DiagnosisDuring the physical exam, the doctor will feel the affected area for any lumps or bumps. The medical history will entail questions about the patient's health habits and a family history of any medical conditions, past illnesses, and treatments.
Exams and Tests Used in Making a DiagnosisExams and tests that are used to make a bone cancer diagnosis may include:
- Blood tests
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Bone scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
A blood test may be used to determine the level of an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase. A large amount of alkaline phosphatase can be found in the blood when the cells that form bone tissue are highly active. Bone tissues are active when children are growing, when a broken bone is mending, or when a disease or a tumor causes production of abnormal bone tissue. However, this test is not a completely reliable indicator of bone cancer.