A sedimentation rate is a blood test that detects inflammation in the body. An elevated sedimentation rate can be indicative of arthritis, other inflammatory conditions or some types of cancer.
A erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test looks at red blood cells and measures how long it takes these cells to settle at the bottom of a test tube. Inflammation causes red blood cells to quickly sink.
Bone cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that begins in the bones. Other cancers can affect the bones, such as leukemia, which occurs in the bone marrow, or metastatic cancers, which begin in one place and spread.
High Sedimentation Rates
High sedimentation rates indicate inflammation somewhere in the body. Extremely high sedimentation rates are associated with serious diseases, such as infection or cancer, including bone cancer.
High Sedimentation and Bone Cancer
Although extremely high sedimentation rates can indicate cancer, they more often reveal other infections. Typically, physicians only use sedimentation rate to detect cancer when the patient has other symptoms, such as a history of cancer or weight loss.
A high sedimentation rate can indicate many diseases. Although high sedimentation rates can indicate bone cancer, this is unlikely in patients without other cancer symptoms or history.