Nuclear Bone Scan for Prostate Cancer
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 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.
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.
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...
- Team Cap's Prostate Cancer Journey: Linda Kaywood: 9781517145576: Amazon.com: Books
Team Cap's Prostate Cancer Journey [Linda Kaywood] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Prostate Cancer is not an old man's disease. More men die of Prostate Cancer than with. After Lung Cancer
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...
- Letter to Cancer - Lessons Learned: Linda Kaywood: 9781514157312: Amazon.com: Books
Letter to Cancer - Lessons Learned [Linda Kaywood] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. I wrote this letter to cancer for therapeutic reasons and to also tell cancer that it sucks. I have learned many lessons during my cancer journeys
Did you ever have a bone scan?
© 2012 Linda Bilyeu