The spine is the one of the most common locations in the body for the spread of breast, prostate, lung and other cancers. UMGCCC offers an interdisciplinary team of experts in spine tumors to provide the most effective treatment possible for patients with primary or metastatic spine disease.

Metastatic Tumors

The spine is one of the most common places in the body for the spread (or metastasis) of cancer. Each year, an estimated 18,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with metastatic spine disease. In fact, over 40 percent of all patients who have cancer elsewhere in their body - including breast, prostate and lung cancer - will experience the spread of their cancer to their spine in their lifetime.

Primary Tumors

Primary spinal tumors may be benign or malignant. Tumors may be bone cancer in the skeleton or soft tissue cancer in the supportive tissue or within the nervous system. Symptomatic tumors usually require treatment.

Symptoms of Spine Tumors

Symptoms may result from bone and soft tissue invasion, spinal instability, or pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness or abnormal sensation
  • Loss of strength in the arms or legs
  • Inability to walk
  • Incontinence of bladder or bowel functions

Diagnosis of Spine Tumors

Imaging studies are used to determine the presence and extent of spine lesions. These tests may include:

  • Spine x-ray
  • Spinal CT
  • Spine MRI
  • Spinal PET Scan
  • Myelogram

Our radiologists are Board Certified and have advanced training. Less invasive biopsy techniques may be available through our interventional radiologists. A CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) examination may be normal, or abnormal but nonspecific. Cytology (cell studies) of CSF sometimes shows tumor cells.

This disease may also alter the results of an ADH test.

We provide our patients with timely reports of their and take the time to carefully and thoroughly review all films and laboratory test results with the patient and family members.

Expertise: Our Spine Tumor Specialists

Developing the best treatment plan for a patient with spinal metastases requires the expertise of many different specialists. Our multidisciplinary team approach to the treatment of spine tumors means that patients benefit from the combined expertise and experience of the entire team of spine cancer experts.

Our spine cancer specialists meet weekly to review each patient's case and develop a coordinated treatment plan that takes advantage of the latest therapies available.

Members of our Spine-Directed Oncology Program include:

  • Neurosurgeons
  • Orthopedic Surgeons
  • Interventional Neuro-Radiologists
  • Medical Oncologists
  • Radiation Oncologists
  • Neuropathologists
  • Primary and Palliative Care physicians

Our surgeons and physicians are Board Certified and Fellowship trained in their specialties. In addition, our patients have access to the comprehensive support services of a large academic cancer center, including the latest clinical trials, psychological services, nutrition counseling, and many other support services.

Spinal Tumors: Treatment Options

Depending on the type and location of the tumor, the patient's other health conditions, and previous treatments received, an individual's treatment plan for spine cancer may involve a combination of therapies, including:

  • Surgical resection and reconstruction for spinal stability using the best techniques available
  • Minimally invasive procedures including kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty to treat pain associated with painful collapsed vertebrae
  • Trilogy Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) - directed and more precise radiation therapy for the spine
  • Chemotherapy

Treating the Person, Not Just the Disease

Our multidisciplinary spine cancer team is dedicated to exploring all the options with patients and their family members, providing the most advanced treatments possible based on each patient's unique needs and desires.

As new, more powerful and targeted treatments become available, more and more people are living with cancer. Our goal is to provide patients with the full range of cancer management strategies, so that they can continue to live as normally and actively as possible. In cases where cancer cannot be cured, palliative (or symptom relief) treatments can improve a patient's quality of life by increasing or restoring mobility, relieving pain, numbness and other symptoms, and allowing the return to normal daily activities.

We offer a full range of specialty and support services to assist those living with cancer.

Immediate Access to Cancer Experts

For more information about our Spine Directed Oncology Program, or to schedule a consultation with our team of spine tumor specialists, please call 1-800-888-8823 or you may contact the Department of Radiation Oncology directly at 410-328-6080. We make every effort to schedule your appointment within three to four days of your call. Physicians may call our Physician OneCall line at 1-800-373-4111.

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