Health A-Z

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What It's Used For

Radionuclide scans are done most commonly to detect cancerous tumors, to judge the effectiveness of cancer treatment and to look for signs that cancer has spread (metastasized) to organs such as the brain, liver or bones. Another common reason these scans are done is to assess the function of a gland, such as the heart or thyroid.

A radionuclide scan of the bones, also called a bone scan, is often used to check the skeleton for signs that cancer has spread to the bones from a primary (original) site located somewhere else in the body, such as the breast or prostate. Bone scans also can check for forms of cancer that begin in the bones themselves, as well as for noncancerous problems, including infections of the bones or joints and bone fractures that may be hidden or not easily diagnosed.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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