Original Study| Volume 21, ISSUE 1, e18-e21, February 2021

Looking for Metastasis in Early Breast Cancer: Does Bone Scan Help? A Retrospective Review



      Routine staging investigations are not recommended for early breast cancer (EBC). Staging scans and further confirmatory tests add to the cost of breast cancer treatment. Despite recommendations from international guidelines, whole body bone scan (BS) is commonly used for staging EBC. We examined our experience with BS as a staging investigation when selectively used in EBC.

      Patients and Methods

      All EBC patients who underwent treatment through the Eastern Health breast unit during a 50-month period from January 2012 were included in this study. All staging BS results were reviewed to evaluate yield and false-positive rate. The causes of false-positive results were analyzed. The role of BS when performed along with computed tomographic scans of chest, abdomen, and pelvis (CTCAP) was evaluated.


      Even with the selective use of BS, we could only achieve a yield of 1% (95% confidence interval, −0.6, 2.7) in EBC. When combined with CTCAP, only one additional metastasis was detected in 194 BSs.


      BS plays only a limited role in staging EBC. Patients who have undergone CTCAP will experience minimal benefit by undergoing additional BS.


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