Tests for bone cancer

You might have one or more of the following tests to diagnose and stage primary bone cancer, or to check how well your treatment is working.

You usually start by seeing your GP if you have symptoms. They examine you and might refer you for tests. Most people have an x-ray and a scan. You may then have a bone biopsy.


An x-ray is a test that uses small doses of radiation to take pictures of the inside of your body.

MRI scan

An MRI scan creates pictures using magnetism and radio waves. 

Bone biopsy for bone cancer

A bone biopsy is where a surgeon takes a small sample of bone and sends it to the laboratory for a specialist doctor to look at under a microscope.

Blood tests

Blood tests can check your overall health, measure your bone activity and help diagnose cancer and other conditions.

Bone scan for bone cancer

A bone scan uses a gamma camera and a radioactive tracer to show changes or abnormalities in the bones.

Bone marrow biopsy for bone cancer

A bone marrow test uses a sample of bone marrow cells or an area of bone marrow to look for cancer cells.

CT scan

A CT scan is a test that uses x-rays and a computer to create detailed pictures of the inside of the body.

Last reviewed: 
11 Feb 2021
Next review due: 
12 Feb 2024
Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer