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Nuclear Bone Scan for Prostate Cancer

Nuclear Bone Scan for Prostate Cancer. The tech was kind enough to add color for enhanced photos.

Nuclear Bone Scan for Prostate Cancer. The tech was kind enough to add color for enhanced photos.

Bone Scan

I've witnessed first hand on how amazing a Nuclear Bone Scan works. The nuclear imaging test that reveals the skeletal system, is an outstanding diagnostic tool. It helps diagnose and keep track of diseases of the bones. It highlights areas of new bone activity with a super glow, but unfortunately your body will not glow in the dark.

My husband has had four procedures done due to his metastatic prostate cancer. As patients of prostate cancer know, the most likely place for advanced prostate cancer mets are the bones.

I was by his side for three of the scans. During his first scan I wasn't there. I still regret that, but I did "right a wrong."

For the first scan in 2008 we were still newbies in our battle against prostate cancer. I was told by one person at the hospital that family members weren't allowed in the room during the procedure. I accepted that and I remained in the waiting room.

I was told the procedure would only take about 40 minutes, probably less. From start to finish.

We arrived to the hospital as instructed three hours prior in order to have the radioactive tracer injected into his vein. During this time your body is injected with nuclear isotope so that your bones will glow on the screen.

It takes about three hours for the isotope to travel through your body. During this time patients could eat and drink normally. It's best to drink water so the tracer travels throughout the body.

Whole Body Bone Scan

Whole Body Bone Scan

Whole Body Nuclear Bone Scan

Nuclear Bone Scan

It was now time for the Nuclear Bone Scan. This means being strapped onto a table. One large strap across the chest so that you can't move your upper body. The other strap goes around your feet so that you don't move your lower body. Any movement would produce a blurry image and the procedure would be null and void. The time allowance also depended upon how many extra images needed to be taken. If an extra image was needed for a closer exam, this took about 5-10 minutes longer. Each patient's procedure is different depending upon their diagnosis.

During the first bone scan visit I paced in the waiting room. Like an expectant father. Yet, wife. 30 minutes passed. Then 40. Then 50. I'm not a patient person. I asked the receptionist at the desk if she could check on the delay. She did. He'll be done in a few minutes. OK. He was done and he was livid! It seems that the technician had forgot about him because he was busy chatting with his co-workers. The tech was rude, didn't give any explanation on what to expect during the test. My husband laid there strapped down and motionless for an extra 15 minutes. His calls for assistance went unanswered. Those 15 minutes could seem like an hour to someone who has no idea what to expect. That's uncalled for and unprofessional.

I was then livid. Those who know me, know that I am the person who always needs to right a wrong. I did so. I emailed a complaint to a friend who at the time was Head of the ER. She forwarded the complaint to the head of the Nuclear Medicine Department. I received an email of apology and gratitude for making her aware of her employees misconduct . Since the initial bone scan we have had three more scans at this hospital. We'll never know if the tech knew it was us who complained, but his attitude has sure changed. He now explains what is going to happen during the procedure. He also smiles.

I do not accept the first "no" as an answer any longer at hospitals. I'm inside the room whenever any test is performed, unless there is a very good response to my "why?" such as there is radiation. OK, I could accept that, but I will be standing behind that door watching the technicians actions like a hawk. Patients are paying for a service. Patients should receive outstanding service for the money that they are paying. No ifs, ends or buts. If you are having this procedure done, bring along a family member or friend for support. Even if you don't think you need support, you should always have an advocate with you who could watch your back while you are being treated.

Bone Scan in black and white

Bone Scan in black and white

What to expect...

As an advocate for Prostate Cancer I often receive emails from other cancer fighters. They are scared, worried, confused and seeking answers or assistance. One of the questions I often receive are about the bone scans, they desire answers from someone who actually experienced the test first hand. Not from Google. Not from a doctor who says it's no big deal. They want reassurance. I, along with my husband supply the answers as best as we could.

  • Be sure and empty out your bladder before your procedure. Your bladder will glow because the solution is waiting to come out.
  • Metal objects must be removed. (Jewelry, keys, metal on clothing)
  • Your head is scanned first for a whole body scan.
  • The table slowly moves backwards as scans are being taken.
  • It's a painless procedure. With the exception of the injection.
  • You will be strapped down. Don't move and the test will go much quicker.
  • Your head is only confined underneath for 5 minutes. I timed this. So if you're claustophobic that's not too long. Hopefully.
  • Don't panic if you or your advocate spot glowing areas. A "hot spot" could simply be an arthritic area, infection, bone injuries, tumor, fracture or bone regrowth.
  • After the test drink water to cleanse the radioactive liquid from your system.
  • Don't waste your time or the technicians time. They can't supply any answers to the findings of your scans.
  • A radiologist will contact your doctor with the results.

My husband is my hero. I watch in awe as he patiently lays still. I'm not capable of that. I'd need to be drugged, which is always also an option and should be discussed with your physician.

Have your advocate take photos. It's not everyday you get to see your skeletal system. Be brave. Close your eyes and pretend you are in your happy place.

Bone scan is over!

Bone scan is over!

Scroll to Continue

Dave's Nuclear Bone Scan results...

I thought I would mention the results of Dave's bone scans since I'm sure many of you on this journey might be curious.

The initial bone scan in 2008 didn't reveal any activity. Prostate cancer cells are minuscule and we weren't surprised at the results.

The second scan in 2009 revealed activity on the hip. Radiation was administered.

The third scan in 2010 revealed more metastatic activity on the spine and again radiation was administered.

The fourth scan in 2011 which is when I took these photos and video revealed much more activity and Dave is now on a new treatment.

Dave had two bone scans in 2013. One in February and one in October. Both scans revealed no new activity and some areas have improved.

Sadly, Dave passed away on July 6, 2015 due to his type of aggressive prostate cancer. I documented our journey and published Team Cap's story in this book...

Bone Scan from Feb. 1, 2013

Bone Scan from Feb. 1, 2013

Additional articles by Sunshine

  • Xofigo Treatment for Prostate Cancer
    Xofigo was approved in 2013 for men with metastatic Prostate Cancer. Formally known as Radium-223, it's the latest treatment for my husband. I hope what I learn along our journey, helps you...
  • Prostate Cancer and the Importance of the PSA Test
    Dear U.S. Preventive Services Task Force...we would appreciate it more if you focused on the positive...if it ain't broke don't fix it!
  • Cancer Etiquette
    Chances are we will all be affected by cancer at sometime in our lives. This article shares the do's and don'ts from my perspective.
  • Provenge Treatment for Prostate Cancer
    Provenge Therapy is the latest treatment for Prostate Cancer. This is my husbands journey with Provenge.

Letter to Cancer is now available on Amazon...

© 2012 Linda Bilyeu


Nithya Venkat from Dubai on May 11, 2014:

Nuclear Bone Scan is a blessing to identify active cancer cells in the initial stages and kill them. Learned a lot about Nuclear Bone Scan today. Thank you for sharing this.

RTalloni on September 20, 2012:

Not only are you a great advocate for your husband but you've done a great service by sharing information and sharing what you have learned about being an advocate with others.

It is very important for patients to have personal advocates go through appointments and procedures with them. Only those who have seen the need first hand can express the need adequately.

Some of the things I've seen in medical settings make me want to write, but I need to wait until I can do it with more objectivity and rationality so it will be helpful rather than just a vent. Good for you for stepping up for all patients.

(Just a BTW/FYI note, I've seen some wonderful medical professionals doing their jobs as well as some who were just pretending to be professionals.)

TeachableMoments from California on September 04, 2012:

Sunshine625, thank you for sharing your family's story. I will keep your family in my heart. You and Dave are true warriors. Keep fighting and keep loving each other. You are amazing.

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on September 04, 2012:

I greatly appreciate you taking us(your HubPage followers) on this difficult journey you and Dave are currently going through. I know that these hubs help out many people that are going or are about to go through the same situation. You did an awesome Right a is surprising how some medical associates seem to forget that the reason...the only reason they are working in their field the care of the patient. Awesome awesome awesome.....another fine addition into your hub collection.

healthylife2 on August 26, 2012:

So kind of you to help others by telling them what it is really like. Knowledge removes much of the fear. I was hit with so many "firsts" when it came to all the medical tests and it was terrifying. I agree that you should always bring someone to the hospital and you are awesome for making things right!

IntegrityYes on August 25, 2012:

That is an emotional one. I definitely voted up.

DragonBallSuper on August 23, 2012:

so interestng read!! well explained and reader-friendly write..always learned something new! shared

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 23, 2012:

Hi Rika, I hope you are doing well. You are always on my mind. Thanks for stopping by to say hello :)

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 23, 2012:

Hi Rajeev, One of my missions is to help educate others who aren't familiar with the prostate cancer journey. Our Facebook group just lost a young man of 49 years old to this dreaded disease and that's very sad. I'm glad you learned something new. Thank you.

Rika Susan from South Africa on August 23, 2012:

Another wonderful explanatory hub, Linda. It is so great that you use your experience to make this journey a little less dark and scary for other folks who are perhaps new to the process. You remain in my thoughts and prayers, even when you don't hear from me!

Rajeev N. Verma from Nagpur, India on August 23, 2012:

Hi Linda.. Your hub is very informative.. Your article on prostate cancer broadened our knowledge of the subject..

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 22, 2012:

Thank you Judith. I appreciate your comment.

Hi rfmoran, Congrats on your early detection and successful treatment. A bone scan isn't performed for prostate cancer unless the PSA is elevated after other treatments have been administered. Also if the oncologist suspects metastatic activity since the first place pc usually spreads to is the bone. Thanks for your comment and wishing you continued success.

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff from Long Island, New York on August 22, 2012:

Valuable Hub. I've had prostate cancer and it was caught early and successfully treated with radiation. I was unfamiliar with the nucllear bone scan. Mine was diagnosed via biopsy after spiking PSA test. Thank you for adding to our knowledge.

Judith C Evans from Boise, ID on August 22, 2012:

You are a wonderful advocate and an inspiration! Imaging tests are so difficult on so many levels, and I admire you and your husband for your courage and perseverance. You are both in my prayers.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 22, 2012:

Thank you drbj and Sue! I appreciate your thoughts.

Cardisa, a scan this year is not likely, but each week it's something new so we don't know. He's doing OK. I keep his spirits up the best I can. Thanks!

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on August 22, 2012:

Oh my God, you are a brave lady! I think I would have fallen apart. Will he be doing another scan this year? How is he doing now? I will read your other hub on the subject. Take care and keep strong.

Sueswan on August 21, 2012:

Hi Linda,

I am so glad you put in a complaint against that technician. I remember complaining to my doctor about a technician who performed a mammogram. He said, I am sorry Susan but I hear these stories from patients all the time.

My prayers are with you and Dave.

Voted up

My prayers are with you and your husband.

Take care :)

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 21, 2012:

Your hubby, Linda, is fortunate to have you as his own personal health advocate. Too often we need one and no one is available. The best of luck to you both.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 21, 2012:

Natashalh ~ Teresa Coppens ~ Faith Reaper ~ teaches12345 ~ stokermm ~ fpherj48 ~ Julie DeNeen ~ Glimmer Twin fan ~ Alocsin ~ Janine Huldie

Thank you all for your comments and good thoughts. I appreciate your support.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on August 21, 2012:

Linda, I was aware that your husband had prostate cancer from your other hub articles, but thank you for explaining this procedure that he has gone through. I think you totally did the right thing to complain about your husband's initial treatment by the tech and glad that he has changed his way. Also will keep your husband and family in my prayers too. Have of course voted up, shared and tweeted too!!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on August 21, 2012:

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so it's good you complained. I've done a few articles (for another site) on the techs responsible for this process, and in all cases, the guidelines for the career explicitly mentioned techs need to be personable and explain the process to patients. This tech was definitely unprofessional. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Suzie from Carson City on August 21, 2012:

What an EXCELLENT and educational Hub, Sunshine! You are so knowledgeable.......all due to your incredible advocacy and steadfast attitude at being involved in Dave's treatment. He couldn't ask for a better person to have his back! You amaze me....and so does Dave, your hero.

Those who depend on you and Dave to answer their questions and give some consolation, I'm sure are so very grateful to you.

You and Dave are a Dynamic Duo!! My BEST to you both! UP+++

Claudia Porter on August 21, 2012:

Great hub and so informative. I can only imagine what a frightening experience these tests are on so many levels and it's nice for people to have a guide to help them through.

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on August 21, 2012:

Wow, I had no idea about your personal experience with this cancer. Great job on this hub, and I hope your husband is doing okay. Voting up!

Stokermm from Gainesville, FL on August 21, 2012:

Very informative hub! I learned a few things. That is pretty cool to see Dave's and kinda freaky! You are a wonderful advocate!

Dianna Mendez on August 21, 2012:

This is good news for those with this medical condition. It is good to know that there is a new technique that may help others in the journey on this cancer. It must be somewhat hard for you to write on this subject, but your sharing will really help others to understand the disease. Prayers and hugs sent to you and your husband.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 21, 2012:

Very interesting, and all the new technology is getting so advanced now. I had DCIS breast cancer last year and it was healed. All the radiation techs were so great and fun to be around, and that makes all the difference in the world. I had seven weeks and one day of treatments, but they only lasted about 10/15 each time. I know you and your husband are going through a lot now and just trying to get through one day at a time. God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on August 21, 2012:

Linda, what an admirable subject for a hub. You and your husband are to be commended. What an incredible journey, I can't imagine having to go through something like this with any family member. I wish you and your husband strength in his fight against this disease. He is lucky to have your staunch support!

Natasha from Hawaii on August 21, 2012:

I never would have guessed that a bone scan would be used for prostate cancer.

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