About to get results of nuclear bone scan - a few q's

Hi, first time I’ve strayed into this part of the forum…really grateful if anyone can give me an overview of what might happen next… 


I was referrred for a nuclear bone scan having had rib pain (3 years after removal of breast cancer lump, radio, borderline re chemo, when in early 40’s).


When I get the results;


a/ What questions is it useful to ask if the scan shows up anything suspicious re possible bone mets?


b/ If they find something suspicious do you then get referred for another test (I’ve seen the page on the breast cancer care forum re different  types of scans and blood test) to confirm if bone mets present?

Or can they ever tell bone mets are present just from the nuclear scan?  

I would like to know before I get the results so that I can prepare my mind as far as possible (and decide whether to see if a friend can come with me).


c/ If bone mets are found to be present, I presume treatment is then chemo, radio and hormone, subject to exactly where any bone mets are? Sorry for the somewhat wooly question but until I get the results I’m not sure exactly what I’m asking!


Really grateful to anyone who can provide some info from their experience.


Thank you


Hello seabreeze
Hello and welcome to our part of the forum and hoping your bone scan is clear but it is a very detailed scan of every bone in your body.
The scan highlights any defect in the bone and it doesn’t mean it’s cancer …sometimes its arthritis spots or old other damage but it does give a very clear insight into what’s happening as sometimes mets don’t actually shout out" hello I’m here" and it’s not until pain sets in are they found.
Try not to look too far forward until u get the actual results but treatments vary to each individual so it’s hard to say what step would be next .
Your oncologist would then prescribe a first line treatment plan accordingly.
Please pop back here with getting results and let us know how things are …just a little bit of advice …keep off the Internet. .it causes unnessary panic and stress !!
Hugs xxx

Hi Nicky, Carolyn and Dragoncarine,

Thank you all again for your messages of support.

Met onc on Friday, nuc bone scan showed up 3 areas on ribs, 2 quite long, the 3rd at junction with spine. Radiographers report said lesions with osteoblastic thickening, highly suspicious, indicating mets. So referred for urgent CT scan with follow up with Onc in about 2 weeks time.

Onc said unusual since the 2 larger areas on ribs are almost symetrical on left and right sides (my primary cancer was on left side), she is undecided at present, but warned me to prepare myself for results and (she has been my Onc for 3 years) apologised both for giving bad news and another 2 weeks of waiting). I know this is her way of saying that while not fully conclusive indications are not good.
My primary bc, in spring 2014, was invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 2, stage 2, sentinal node biopsey clear, oestrogen +ve. Bc lump removed, radio given but no chemo (later found out borderline for chemo but that it had not been offered/recommended re balance of impact on body v risk of my type,size,grade etc of bc), currently on Tamoxifen.

Unfortunately for my primary diagnosis they only do ultrasound scan of breasts, mammograms and pre radio (set up type) x rays, i.e. they don’t do a CT or nuclear bone scan.  From the NICE guidelines it sounds like these types of scan are not carried out at time of primary diagnosis or during any monitoring/follow ups in women with earlier bc stages who are prescribed Tamoxifen, and then only scan bones/organs if a problem is reported. It appears only post menopausal women on meds other than Tamoxifen and women who’s bc was more progressed at time of primary diagnosis are offered such scans).

Hence if it turns out to be secondary breast mets I can only presume the mets were present or seeded in early 2014, before the primary cancer was removed in spring 2014, since all mammos etc thereafter have shown no reoccurance. That makes me more worried if the medic’s suspicions of mets turn out to be correct, since surely the implication is (if it’s mets rather than a bone condition) it’s been there in my bones untreated for the past 3 years or more doing who knows what (and considering no chemo was given for the primary bc since it was not in my lymph nodes).  

So now warned they will be checking organs too…

I really had thought it was most likely just muscular…the wait to find out since being referred for the bone scan at end June feels a long time…particularly with the latest likelihood indications from my onc.

It also makes planning a bit tricky…currently between jobs (redundancy due to project ending a few months ago) and on same day as seeing onc invited for interview for role (yey!) which would be quite full on, full time etc…interview soonafter next lot of results…I know if the news is bad (which onc is indicating is likely), if I was to do well at the interview and be offered the post I could theoretically ask about jobshare etc but with that role they are unlikely to consider since clearly advertised as FT.

While I know I can’t leap ahead since just possible it could be some other bone problem (osteo/arth etc) again current indications aren’t pointing that way and my mind is straying into thoughts of starting a new job when going into radio, or starting a new FT job immediately after radio, neither of which sounds very workable (re practicalities, energy or mind). (I’m in my 40’s).

I know I just have to be patient and face whatever may come, when/if it comes…I just wasn’t really expecting this now, as a leap straight to bones when 3 years no evidence of disease after primary stage 2 bc (even though I know it is possible).

Most info I have come across seems to be about bone thinning…does anyone know of a good link re bone thickening issues?

That’s bit of a release of thoughts really…

Thank you to anyone who thinks their experience may be helpful and who replies.


Hi Seabreeze
Just found this thread. Currently waiting for NM bone scan results from scan yesterday. I hope you are ok. How did you get on?
Had surgery June this year. Lumpectomy, rads and in Tamoxifen. Currently suffering with pain behind affected breast in back. Dr ordered bone scan “to be on the safe side” xx

Hi seabreeze and njwillow, I’ve been suffering with rib pain behind and below my affected foob for sometime.

(dx September 2014, 26 lymph nodes affected, 2 tumours - one was 8cm! mx, implant, chemo, rads, and in August this year I had implant replaced by DIEP)

The good old NHS have cancelled 4 of my onc appointments since September. I managed to get hold of onc on the phone last week and he has booked me in for NM bone scan and blood tests this Thursday, then wait to see him at the ends of the month.

My primary cancer was grade 3, ER+, not sure of stage, so I did have chemo too. Onc looked at a ct scan I had following DIEP (breathing problems, fluid on lungs) and said there were some suspicious areas on my spine - but I do have long term back trouble with degenerative discs so it might just be that. But like you willow he wants the bone scan as a precaution.

You would both have your results and treatment plans by now, please pop by and share your updates. I hope things are going well with you both xx

Hi Riverside Dawn
Results from my bone can was good apart from degeneration of knees and lower back! Still have pain. On anti inflammatory relief at the moment if bothersome. Also been referred for MLD by breast nurse as mild lymphedema of the affected breast ??
Hope you are all good x

Good news NJWillow. My BCN called today to say she’d managed to get a CT scan organised directly after the bone scan on Thursday so getting the full MOT this month!!

I’ve got degenerative discs and arthritis in various joints so expect that to show up. Cross fingers nothing else.


Gosh… NM bone scan is the only scan I have been offered since dx in May… following mammogram and ultrasound. Its a never ending concern isn’t it? Glad they are being thorough with you. Xxx
Hoping my back improves ?
I feel it is from the radiotherapy. Affected side has been fine til few weeks ago ?

A little update from me. Had a call from onc’s secretary to say he’s still unsure about what has shown up on the 2 x ct scans plus the nm bone scan so wants an MRI done!

I was meant to see onc yesterday for results but the MRI has been booked for Sunday 3rd Dec so called to change the onc appointment. They told me he is very busy and offered me an appointment in mid January!!!

I managed to stay calm and told the booking clerk my story and she eventually found me an appointment for Monday 11th Dec. Still feels a long way away seeing as I should have seen him in September, but at least all the scans will be done.

The waiting is driving me nuts.

Well I finally saw my onco breast surgeon yesterday for annual mammogram and she confirmed mets in one vertebrae. I’m seeing my oncologist on Monday for my treatment plan. Surgeon suggested it could be rads or surgery to remove the offending vertebrae.

Thanks Bon x

Hi everyone.

Thanks for all the good advice and support out there. It is helpful just reading the encouraging comments you all make.

I was diagnosed nearly 4 years ago now and had a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and Tamoxifen, which I’m still taking, but had clear nodes, thankfully. 

I recently started having pains on my bc side breast, was seen by the onc who sent me for a bone scan eleven days ago. Awaiting the results with trepidation!  The radiographer was asking lots of questions about “had I had any broken bones in the last 8 months…” etc., so I suspect the worst and that something has shown up though am trying to stay positive.


So, thanks again for the positivity - and keep your fingers crossed!