Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer

Bone Mineral Density Scans

(often called BMD's or DEXA Scans)

Preparation: None

Bone mineral density scans are often done to determine the mineral composition of your bones. Chemo, radiation and aromistase inhibitors such as Femara can effect the density of your bones. As a result, your physician may want to check your bones to make sure that you are not at risk for fractures. Some people have a predisposition to osteoporosis and most people over the age of 65 have this type of scan every couple of years routinely to check their bone density This scan is different from the bone scan described previously.

The Bone mineral density scan is a type of x-ray. The entire scan takes only 15-20 minutes and the mineral composition of one of your hips and your spine are determined.

You will be weighed and then asked to lie on a table with your legs elevated on a cushion.

An arm which contains a special type of xray beam will pass back and forth over your body while taking an xray of your spine. When the spine density has been determined, the technologist will rotate one of your legs so that your hip is straight and then the arm will pass back and forth over your hip and take this low level xray. Once the xray of your hip and spine are complete, the technologist will analyze the data and a report will be generated. The entire exam takes approx 15 minutes and is pain free. People who have had a hip replacement will have the bone density calculated on the non replaced hip. People who have had bilateral hip replacements will only have the density of their spine calculated. It is not uncommon to see a decrease in the bone density following some treatment for breast cancer but this will usually return to your precancer state once the treatment has finished.

What it's like to have a DEXA scan