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Screening for bone cancer

 Men and women discussing bone cancer

This page has information about screening for cancer that started in your bones (primary bone cancer). You can find information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Screening for bone cancer

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease before they have any symptoms.

Before screening for any type of cancer can be carried out, doctors must have an accurate test to use. The test must be reliable in picking up cancers that are there. And it must not give a positive result in people who do not have cancer. If screening were to be introduced for bone cancer, the test would have to be simple, quick, and not too expensive. We don't currently have such a test.

It is helpful to screen some people who are at a higher risk of primary bone cancer. These people include those who have particular bone diseases or genetic conditions that makes it more likely they will develop bone cancer. Doctors are aware of these conditions and people who have them are likely to have regular X-rays. If you are worried about your risk, you could talk it over with your GP.

 

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About screening for bone cancer

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease before they have any symptoms.

Before screening for any type of cancer can be carried out, doctors must have an accurate test to use. The test must be reliable in picking up cancers that are there. And it must not give a positive result in people who do not have cancer. If screening were to be introduced for bone cancer, the test would have to be simple, quick, and not too expensive. We don't currently have such a test.

Bone cancers show up on X-rays, but X-rays expose people to small amounts of radiation. Having a lot of X-rays can be harmful. Because primary bone cancer is so rare, exposing many people to X-rays to try to find it is not sensible or cost effective.

It is helpful to screen people who are at a higher risk of primary bone cancer. These people include those who have particular bone diseases or genetic conditions that makes it more likely they will develop bone cancer. You can read about these conditions on our page about the risks and causes of bone cancer. Doctors are aware of these conditions and people with bone conditions are likely to have regular X-rays. People with a genetic condition called Li Fraumeni syndrome are regularly screened for cancers.

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Updated: 17 December 2014