Screening for bone cancer

Screening aims to find a cancer early. No national screening is available for primary bone cancer.

What is screening?

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease. This is before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

No screening available

There is no national screening programme because:

  • this condition is very rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

Screening for people at high risk

It is helpful to screen people who are at higher risk of primary bone cancer. This includes people with particular bone diseases or genetic conditions that increases the risk of bone cancer. Doctors are aware of these conditions.

If you are at higher risk of developing bone cancer, your specialist will see you in clinic and you are likely to have regular x-rays. People with a genetic condition called Li Fraumeni syndrome have regular screening for cancers.

Talk to your GP if you think you are at high risk of bone cancer.

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