Thanks for posting. This sounds like a difficult time. At initial diagnosis there is lots of information to take in and days can be filled with various appointments and tests.
Some scans do involve being in an enclosed space and many people worry about this. Although a bone scan can take up to 60 minutes the scan is not enclosed like an MRI as jaybro says. The thought of it might still be daunting though. It sounds as if your hospital team feel a bone scan is necessary in your individual situation but you can check with them to be sure. To check for bone density a DEXA scan is usually used which is different to a bone scan.
If you do go ahead with the scan, if you wanted, you could ask if it’s possible to have some light sedation. Some people will be prescribed this as it helps them relax and the procedure is easier to get through. Again as jaybro says this helped her through, as well as some relaxation techniques.
Do speak to your breast care nurse and let the scanning department know about your worries. You may also be interested in the range of free services we offer. Someone Like Me might be particularly helpful.
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Breast Cancer Care Nurse
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Another fear we share. The bone scan is a huge reassurance, partly because of the nature of bc cells and their determination to find hiding places and partly because it may flag up additional treatments you might benefit from. For example, your bone density may be affected by chemotherapy and you’d then need bone strengthening treatment (a boon for anyone post-menopausal who doesn’t want osteoporosis). I was so scared when I went that the radiologist (radiographer?) took me for a tour. Like he said, there was no point in giving me the initial injection if I wasn’t going to go through with the scan. Obviously I wasn't the first scared patient. I then had the injection and had to return 4 hours later for the scan.
It’s a narrow bed and a big doughnut that you slowly pass through, not a claustrophobic tunnel. The radiologist told me that he’d recently had an attack of claustrophobia for the first time when he had a CT scan so he knew how I might be feeling and indeed, during the scan, he popped out regularly to ask how I was and even sat and chatted with me for part of it (though it wasn’t necessary). The time you’ve been given is definitely the upper limit. I thought mine took under 15 minutes but It must have been more. I just lay there, with the help of diazepam admittedly, and did my mental relaxation exercises.
How does it compare to CT and MRI scans? You don’t feel anything from the injection of the tracer, whereas I found the sensations of the CT contrast dye unpleasant if brief. The injection is several hours beforehand and off you go, feeling nothing but with strict instructions about peeing and flushing the loo as you are ‘radioactive.’ There are even separate toilets in the department! You do need to lie still, as for the other scans, and it does last longer than a CT scan - but I found it way less scary. If you’re not averse to some chemical assistance, explain to your GP and they will almost certainly help you with a mild sedative. That’s how I did it.
Is it necessary? If it’s really beyond you, probably it’s not. However, without that additional information about your specific cancer, you’re asking your oncology team to work blind in a way. Me, I’d always be worrying they’d missed a bit! My results were clear in terms of rogue cells but confirmed my bone density needed help.
As if a bc diagnosis isn’t enough, people like us who are plagued by anxiety have more thrown at us than we feel we can handle, don’t we! I found much of it a distraction and, a lifelong phobic, I’m still here to tell the tale - much to my pride and amazement. Go get some diazepam is my advice - and tell the radiologist your fears. Good luck x
With the news of having breast cancer and having a ct scan and ecg and an upcoming heart scan I now have been told I need to have a bone scan. I’m rather worried about this especially if it’s anything like an mri or a ct scan. I get claustrophobic and I only just managed a ct scan because it was 5 minutes at the most. I have been told my bone scan will take between 60-90 minutes and I know I couldn’t cope with that amount of time. Are bone scans really necessary?