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Topic: Should I be nervous about bone density test?

Forum: Bone Health and Bone Loss —

Talk with others about bone density, osteopenia and osteoporosis, and ways to keep your bones strong

Posted on: Aug 19, 2020 11:55AM

PurpleCat wrote:

My doctor has ordered a bone density test. It sounds about as easy as getting an X ray, so I'm not worried about the process, just the possible results. But I'm not worried about osteoporosis either. I'm afraid that somehow the test is going to uncover an irregularity that will lead down a bunny trail of further testing due to suspicion that the cancer has spread to my bones. I don't have any particular reason to think I have cancer in my bones at this time except some aches and pains that are more likely due to Letrozole. But I have had some totally routine testing come up with nasty incidental findings lately, and just want to know before going in if there is any possibility I will get one of those traumatic phone calls telling me that, surprise, something unexpected was uncovered in my results and lab/imaging will be calling me to schedule a test and to take the first available, kicking off weeks and months of uncertainty and tests and treatment and recovery. Does that ever happen with bone density tests?

Dx 10/2018, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/4/2018 Lumpectomy Surgery 10/18/2018 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Aug 19, 2020 12:02PM - edited Aug 19, 2020 12:05PM by ruthbru

The test is 100% easy & non-invasive, and you really do want/need to know what your bone density is. I am at the age where almost all my friends have had DEXA scans, and none have them have found out anything unrelated to their bone density coming out of a test, although I suppose it's possible.

"Invisible threads are the strongest ties." Friedrich Nietzsche Dx 2/2007, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/11 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 19, 2020 12:16PM ctmbsikia wrote:

I've had 2 so far and to my knowledge as being a low dose x ray, and reading my results, no where on there is there even a place for other incidental findings. I don't think you need to be nervous at all. Well, other than possibly getting diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis.

Dx 12/14/2017, DCIS/IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/16/2018, LCIS, Right Surgery 1/30/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 4/10/2018 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 6/25/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Aug 19, 2020 12:40PM AliceBastable wrote:

It takes about five minutes or less, checks one part of the spine and one hip, and ONLY for bone density. If you think you have bone mets, talk to your MO about getting the other kind of bone scan.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Cancer's a bitch, but I'm a bigger one with more practice. Dx 5/2018, ILC/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/11/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/8/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/29/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Aug 19, 2020 05:01PM - edited Aug 19, 2020 05:02PM by PurpleCat

Thanks, all. No, no reason to suspect bone mets, just wanting to know all possible outcomes of this test. I'm heading in for a hysterectomy seven months after getting blindsided by the results of what was supposed to be a couple of simple tests to see if I was in menopause, so my scanxiety is kinda out of control.

Dx 10/2018, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/4/2018 Lumpectomy Surgery 10/18/2018 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Aug 19, 2020 05:37PM 2019whatayear wrote:

are we the same person? This was my exact thought process when I had the Dexa scan. I got the scan at 8am on a Tuesday and the MO office was calling me at 10 am the same day wanting to schedule a follow up - my head almost literally exploded - and I blurted out - is this Cancer thing? I need to know now. Nurse was like -ah no - just osteopenia - doctor wants to talk about that -

I have the worst scan anxiety ! I was so surprised of all the tests - this one I got the fastest results ever. So if you get a call after the test don’t assume the worst - if I would have know I could get a call so fast after the bone density test, I wouldn’t have freaked out

Also it only takes like 5 minutes for the scan :-)

IDC 2 cm micromets 1 node 8 more removed. BMX 6/24, A/C then Taxol 7/25, 25 rads 1/6/2020 No reconstruction BRCA2 - BSO 2/19 all clear/ starting AI on 3/1/2020
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Aug 19, 2020 07:07PM bcincolorado wrote:

Meds can cause bone loss (I had it) and my MO put me on Prolia after my DEXA and they did it her office. It did require pre-auth and she had to send something to the insurance for it. She also had me increase the calcium I take each day. I did that for about 2 years and after I stopped Femara I think I had one more Prolia shot and now have not had another at this point.

Of all the medical tests this is the easies one (DEXA).

Dx 8/2009, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/7/2010 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left Hormonal Therapy 1/15/2010 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Hormonal Therapy 1/30/2016 Femara (letrozole)
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Aug 19, 2020 08:32PM ruthbru wrote:

There's no prep, no pain, and you don't even have to take off your clothes!

"Invisible threads are the strongest ties." Friedrich Nietzsche Dx 2/2007, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/11 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 20, 2020 09:54AM Spookiesmom wrote:

Well, getting OFF the table can be painful😂😂

Reoccurrence 3-19. Dx IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3
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Aug 20, 2020 08:46PM AliceBastable wrote:

Spookiesmom, that's one of the hardest parts of ANY test for me!

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Cancer's a bitch, but I'm a bigger one with more practice. Dx 5/2018, ILC/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/11/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/8/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/29/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Aug 20, 2020 08:52PM Beesie wrote:

Spookiesmom and AliceBastable, you mean it's not just me?

Purplecat, when is your BMD test?

“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Aug 20, 2020 09:07PM ajminn3 wrote:

PurpleCat- I’m going in for my first DEXA after starting OS/AI in the last month to get a baseline and have the same worries. Dr. Google isn’t helping my anxiety. I have no reason beyond some joint pain and stiffness that’s likely from my treatment, but the worry is still there

Dx 12/2019, DCIS, Left, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 2 Dx 1/2020, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IIA, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane), Zoladex (goserelin) Surgery Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Aug 21, 2020 01:07PM MinusTwo wrote:

For a DEXA scan - truly there is no pain. Not even any discomfort. It takes only a few minutes. DEXA is a "type of X-ray that measures your bone mineral density and bone loss." And it's not done to see or diagnose cancer or mets - so no anxiety needed on that front.

It's to check for osteopenia or osteoporosis. We all lose bone density as we age. Unfortunately cancer treatments can accelerate that loss of density. There are a number of easy non-invasive treatments available and none of us wants to be sidelined with a broken hip.

Trust me - this is easier than a flu shot. Easier than getting a hair cut. Easier than making dinner.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Aug 21, 2020 01:33PM ruthbru wrote:

Much easier than making dinner!!!!

"Invisible threads are the strongest ties." Friedrich Nietzsche Dx 2/2007, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/11 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 21, 2020 03:37PM edj3 wrote:

Chiming in to say it's a real snoozer of a test. My DEXA scan looked at both hips and my spine so I had three values listed. But you do want to know about osteopenia or osteoporosis so that you can treat it.

I'm very athletic and eat super healthy and much to my surprise (and with no family history) I have osteoporosis. I've now had two bones break, one before that dx and one after. So yeah, my endocrinologist and I are being super aggressive with the treatment. As I told him, my number 1 goal is to be able to run without my bones breaking. I don't think that's an unreasonable goal.

Tried the tamoxifen, no thanks. Dx 4/9/2019, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Dx 5/6/2019, LCIS, Left, <1cm, 0/1 nodes Surgery 5/6/2019 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 6/2/2019 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 9/23/2019 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Aug 25, 2020 08:45AM PurpleCat wrote:

Thanks, everyone! It seems almost like something to look forward to at this point: a noninvasive test where no one is touching me, I don't even need to remove any clothes, and there's no chance of hearing I may have cancer!

Dx 10/2018, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/4/2018 Lumpectomy Surgery 10/18/2018 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Aug 25, 2020 10:18AM LillyIsHere wrote:

PurpleCat, it is a new normal for us to worry for every test and scan we get once we are diagnosed with C. I feel the same way. From, I don't care about tests because I'm healthy to a "new me" on worry of what the test will find. I have learned that the radiologist will only talk to you about his part of the job, in this case your bone density. They don't check other things so rest assure that you won't hear anything unusual. If you are worried about bone density, there are so many treatments and supplements that can take care of it and you shouldn't worry about this part either. I requested my DEXA a month once I started Letrozole and 2 months in Lupron. My bone density came back normal. I wish yours too.

Dx 7/31/2019, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IIA, 2/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 9/19/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic ovary removal; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Hormonal Therapy 12/1/2019 Femara (letrozole)
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Aug 25, 2020 07:39PM - edited Aug 25, 2020 08:44PM by Tmh0921

I had this same question after finding out my oncologist had scheduled me for a bone density scan earlier this month. I have scanxiety as well, and was worried they'd find something like bone mets too ( no reason to suspect bone mets, but my brain went down that rabbit hole). The scan was the easiest test I've had to date. It did find that I have low bone density (I'm on an AI + Ovarian Suppression, so not surprised). I'll be taking Prolia every 6 moths to strengthen my bones, but I can handle that :)


First Dx at 27 years old in 1999, 2nd Dx 2018, 3rd Dx 2019... Current Oncotype: 26 Dx 12/7/1999, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/15 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 12/22/1999 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary Radiation Therapy 1/31/2000 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 2/1/2000 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Hormonal Therapy 8/24/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 9/5/2018 Lumpectomy: Left Dx 9/7/2018, DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1 Dx 5/31/2019, IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 8/5/2019 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left): Latissimus dorsi flap, Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 9/4/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 12/2/2019 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone), Zoladex (goserelin) Hormonal Therapy 3/24/2020 Femara (letrozole), Zoladex (goserelin) Surgery 7/16/2020 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Sep 10, 2020 09:31PM msphil wrote:

hello i get bone density scan yearly had one during and after treatments all was good didnt even see osteoporosis. Take deep breath and take care. msphil idc stage2 0\3 nodes 3 mo chemo before and after Lmast then got married we were planning at diagnosis. Then 7wks rads and then our honeymoon. Had reconstruction but body rejected it and expander removed just wear prothesis. .

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