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Why is a bone marrow test performed?

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Updated March 07, 2007

Question: Why is a bone marrow test performed?
Answer:

Bone marrow tests are performed for many reasons, but the commonest ones are:

  • Detecting bone marrow involvement by a cancer - many cancers, notably lymphomas spread from their primary site to different organs of the body, including the bone marrow. A bone marrow test can tell whether the cancer has spread to the marrow.
  • Detecting cancers of the blood - blood cancers or leukemias are diagnosed mainly be detecting cancer cells in the marrow.
  • Finding the cause of anemia - some individuals may have anemias that are not correctly diagnosed unless a bone marrow biopsy is performed.
  • Bone marrow infiltration by other diseases - certain infections and metabolic disorders may infiltrate the bone marrow. A bone marrow test can help diagnosing such disorders.
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