Highlighted areas in bone scan - does this mean secondary cancer?

Aplologies if this is not in the right place - it is my first post. Just wondering if anyone had experience of this.

I am due to have a bone scan this week after increasing pain since my mastectomy two years ago. I’ve had two scans before and was told both times that they were clear. Now I’ve received a letter from the doctor about the new scan which mentions ‘highlighted areas’ in my previous scans but ‘no evidence of anything untoward’. What could the highlighted areas be if not secondary cancer? I am feeling very worried about the scan now and have been feeling that my bones are aching and creaking as well as the other pain I have. Just wondering if anyone had any similar experience?

Thank you very much in advance.

Hi onsen,

I’m not surprised you are worrying and I don’t think anything we say is going to stop you doing that :(.  Highlighted areas in your bone scan are not always easy to diagnose as they can be caused be other things beside cancer such as arthritis or old injuries. They will be looking to see if there are any changes between scans which would suggest cancer activity in the bone. If there are no changes this time I think they will be telling you it is not cancer so I hope this is the news you will be getting after the scan. I hope you will stay around long enough to tell us how you get on.




Hi Onsen,


I have bone mets and have bone scans once or twice a year. I think that things like arthritis and injuries can also show up - they always ask me about whether I have those before I get my bone scans. Maybe give the helpline a call tomorrow and they can talk to you about it in more detail. I do hope all is still well in your case.
Your pains may well be treatment related but it’s good that you are getting checked out.


Best wishes,




PS Just seen that Dawn was posting at the same time!

Thank you dawn that’s really helpful. That makes sense about looking for changes. I just thought it was weird that they’d never mentioned anything wrong before.

Yes I will come back and say how I got on. The scan’s on Tuesday then appointment Friday.

Thanks again.

Thanks tournesol. I don’t have any old injuries and no arthritis as far as I know (am 40 - not sure if that would be unusual at that age). I also had a chest X-ray earlier in the year and they said what they saw was consistent with surgery so not sure if the mastectomy could affect a bone scan?

The pain feels really sharp and comes and goes. The doctor thinks it could be to do with my implant. But now I feel my collarbone and back ache a lot so I’m worrying about that too.

I have similar pain after WLE and had a bone scan as well as usual mammoth. Results showed a bit of osteporosis and scar tissue. One nurse also told me that the nerves take time to regenerate and that is why the pain can occur 3 years later.

Hope this helps


PS I just run on ibuprofen gel if it gets achey.

Just got my scan results - apparently the PET scan does indicate that there has been activity. There has been a change since the last scan. They told me things are not conclusive yet and that I need an MRI and then possibly a biopsy.

I’m feeling very confused. I don’t really get what else the change could indicate. They said something about post operative changes and they also said the CT scan wax normal but the PET scan wasn’t. They did seen quite serious about it all and talked a bit about what it meant if this is secondary cancer. I am now terrified and have to wait possibly a few weeks for the MRI and then seven days for the results and so on. Feeling really bad about this and Christmas and everything.

11 years ago? Wow that’s really good. I hope if it is bad news, I could have a similar outlook. I have two little girls and the youngest is only three. I lost my mum to breast cancer when I was three and I just can’t bear the idea of them going through what I went through.

Thank you both for your replies. Yes I will definitely chase up the MRI. Apparently it should be done before Christmas and appointments carry on over the Christmas period for urgent cases - which I am apparently (think the doctor was trying to be reassuring but failed when she said that!)

Really need a way of coping with this panic and stress though. It is logical to say - I don’t know anything for certain yet so don’t let it ruin these few weeks but how to take that approach in practice? Any advice about how you get through the waiting would be great! Thanks x