Bone Scan Index May Help Determine Response to Prostate Cancer Treatment

Pictured: Michael Morris

Medical oncologist Michael Morris

Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering have shown the usefulness of a scale called the Bone Scan Index (BSI) for determining whether some prostate cancer patients are responding to therapy, according to a recently published study online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in the United States, and the primary site of metastatic disease is bone. The BSI was developed by Steven Larson, Chief of the Nuclear Medicine Service, and his colleagues in the Nuclear Medicine Service and the Department of Medical Physics to help measure the extent of bone metastases. In this retrospective study, medical oncologist Michael Morris and his colleagues applied the BSI to 88 prostate cancer patients who received chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and set out to determine whether this scale was a better predictor of survival than prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels.

“What we learned is that changes in BSI levels while on treatment correlated with a patient’s likelihood of surviving, and did so better than changes in PSA levels,” says Dr. Morris, of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Genitourinary Oncology Service.

Physicians typically use bone scintigraphy – or bone scans – to view metastatic disease before, during, and after treatment. Because these scans are limited in their ability to track treatment responses, researchers have been searching for ways to standardize bone scan measurements. Developing an imaging biomarker for prostate cancer metastases that can help physicians measure or quantify treatment effects has been a major, international priority.

“The Bone Scan Index is a step in the right direction for developing that long-sought-after imaging biomarker, and shows how novel quantitative imaging techniques can be powerful new tools to predict survival,” Dr. Morris says. “We’re now working on ways to automate reading bone scans in this manner, so that the technique can be used easily in the context of larger studies and for clinical care.”


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Question can a bone scan be done without any nuclear contrast being used my dad has prostrate cancer that had advanced to bones he is 85 has a pacemaker and high blood pressure very concerned with aftermath of this injection

Fran, we recommend your dad speak with his doctor about what his options are. If you’d like to learn more about bone scans, we recommend you reach out to the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at 800-4CANCER. Thank you for your comment.

Basically we have addressed concerns over the scan and we are being held hostage stating we don't do this then he will not prescribe a hormone blocker very upsetting that the oncologist has taken that position every patient reacts differently to procedures

Fran, we are sorry about your experience. Unfortunately, we are unable to answer specific medical questions on our blog. If you would like to make an appointment with a Memorial Sloan-Kettering physician, please call our Physician Referral Service at 800-525-2225 or go to Thanks for your comment.

My husband has prostrate Cancer which a bone scan, X-rays, and a pet scan say has spread to his ribs clavicle area and frontal cranial areas. The doctors are treating him with testosterone deprivation therapy (Firmigon). His urologist is not convinced it is metastatic bone cancer. How can I be certain it is or not.

Dr Morris had prostate operation at Sloan my urologist and internist fell it's not a malignancy first ct done by Kelly Myers impression of rt forth rib anterioly possible represents a benign finding nov 26 14 new date2/27 15 states sclerotic osseous changes at the forth and6 rib more likely post traumatic change less meligancy but oncologist insists it's cancer that spread from PC cancer how can I be sure this was done by Stephen e Fleming need to have clear mind any suggestions can I submit them you have insurance dealing with my life have the medical record number for both ct thank you Vincent

Dear Vincent, we cannot offer personal medical advice on our blog. We encourage you to go back to your oncologist to discuss your concerns. It’s unclear from your post whether or not your oncologist is at MSK. If not, you are welcome to call our Physician Referral Service to make an appointment with one of our specialists for a second opinion. The number is 800-525-2225. Thank you for reaching out to us.

dr michael morris:
medical school ?
internship ?
residency ?
thank you.

Dear Rick, Dr. Michael Morris received his MD at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, completed his residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, and did his fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. For more information about his expertise and credentials, please visit his bio page on our website: If you would like to make an appointment, please call our Physician Referral Service at 800-525-2225.