Bone cancer diagnosis and staging

Because no two people develop bone cancer in the same way, we offer a wide array of resources for proper evaluation of your situation—and we use that information to create a personalized plan that fits your specific needs.

Tests and procedures used for bone cancer staging

doctor talking to patientOnce a cancer has been diagnosed, our specialists need to know where it may have spread. This is the “stage” of the cancer. The lower the number, the less it has spread. Knowing the stage allows your medical team to determine the best possible treatment plan for you.

Any combination of these tests and procedures may be used to find and classify (stage) bone cancer:


  • Blood test. Analyzes a sample of blood to determine the level of an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase which can sometimes indicate the presence of a disease or tumor
  • Biopsy. Removes cells or tissues for viewing under a microscope to check for signs of cancer

Scans and procedures

  • Angiogram. Uses an injection of dye to outline blood vessels on an X-ray
  • Bone scan. Involves injection of a small amount of radioactive material into a blood vessel to create images of bones on a computer screen or on film
  • CT scan (computed tomography). Uses a type of X-ray to create detailed, highly accurate, cross-sectional images of the body
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Uses a magnetic field instead of X-rays to provide detailed images of body structures
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography). Uses an injection of a short-lived radioactive substance to create detailed images of body structures that help identify cancer and areas of inflammation in different parts of the body
  • X-ray. Uses a type of high-energy radiation to diagnose diseases by making pictures of the inside of the body that can show the location, size, and shape of a bone tumor

Bone cancer: learn more