Browser does not support script.
Skip to main content
Find out how we produce our information|
A bone marrow test is usually done for cancers that affect the bone marrow (such as leukaemia and lymphomas), but it may be needed for other types of cancer as well.
Your bone marrow is where your blood cells are made, and taking a sample of bone marrow can give lots of information about the way your blood cells are being made and how they’re developing. Bone marrow is found in big bones like the hip bones and the pelvis.
You or your parent will be asked to sign a consent form.
You’ll either have a general anaesthetic so that you fall fast asleep, or you’ll be given a tablet so that you become sleepy and relaxed. You’ll probably be asked to not eat or drink for a few hours before the test - you will be told exactly how long for.
You lie on your side and the sample is taken from the back of your hip bone. Your skin will be cleaned with antiseptic, and then the doctor will put a needle into your hip and take a sample of bone marrow. You may feel some pressure when this done but it shouldn’t hurt. The needle is then removed and a plaster is put over the area. This can be taken off the next day.
A sample of bone marrow is usually taken from the back of the hip bone
View a large version of the image of a bone marrow sample being taken|
You'll probably feel a bit like you’ve been kicked afterwards, but you’ll be given painkillers to help. Let your doctor or nurse know if the area where the needle was put in becomes red or swollen, or if it bleeds.
The results of the test should be ready quite quickly - between a few hours and a couple of days. Your doctor can tell you when your results will be ready.
Content last reviewed: 1 November 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
If you have any questions about Macmillan we would love to hear from you| .
You can also follow us| on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or YouTube.
© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
what are these?|