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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Prostate Cancer, Version 1.2016

Figure 9.

Bone scan machine

Doctors use bone scans to

assess if cancer has spread

to the bones.


Treatment planning

Imaging for metastases

Gamma Camera by Brendaicm available at


under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Bone scan

A bone scan is advised if you have signs or symptoms

of bone metastases. For this test, a radiotracer will be

injected into your vein. The most common radiotracer

used for bone scans is technetium. A special camera

will then take pictures of the dye in the bones. The

radiotracer can be seen in your bones 2 to 3 hours

after it is injected. You may be asked to drink water

and empty your bladder to wash out any of the

radiotracer that is not in your bones.

Figure 9

shows a machine that is used to take

the pictures. You will need to lie still on the padded

table for 45 to 60 minutes to complete the pictures.

Prostate cancer in bone can damage the bone

causing the bone to try in vain to repair itself.

Areas of bone repair take up more of the radiotracer

than healthy bone and thus show up as bright or

“hot” spots in the pictures. However, other health

conditions besides cancer can cause bone repair. A

radiologist can often tell what is and is not cancer in

an abnormal bone scan.


CT or MRI of your pelvis may show if your lymph

nodes are enlarged. MRI was described in Part 2.

MRI images are made with a magnetic field and radio

waves. A CT scan takes many pictures of a body

part from different angles using x-rays. A computer

combines all the x-rays to make detailed pictures.

Getting a CT scan is like getting an MRI scan. Before

CT, you may need to drink enough liquid to have a full