Spine Cancer Treatment
Treatments for spine tumors or cancer include:
Surgery to remove the tumor (standard treatment)
Radiation therapy including CyberKnife radiosurgery therapy, a more direct and targeted approach to delivery
Chemotherapy to kill the cancer or eliminate pain
Like all surgeries, spinal tumor treatment is most successful when performed by a skilled physician and specialist in their field.
If a doctor or patient suspects a spinal column or vertebral tumor, the physician will likely recommend tests to determine the type, location and extent of the suspected tumor. These include MRI, CT scan, and biopsy of tumor tissue to determine if it is a cancerous or benign tumor.
Spinal column and vertebral tumor treatment attempts to eliminate the tumor, but this can risk permanent damage to the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. Age, health and the type of tumor will determine treatment.
Spine cancer treatment options
Most treatment options include one or more of the following treatment options:
- Monitoring. If the tumors in the spine are small enough and noncancerous, watching them carefully may be an option. This also relates to adults who have already had radiation therapy. Doctors most likely recommend MRIs or CT scans to monitor the tumor.
- Traditional surgery. With newer techniques and instruments, neurosurgeons can reach harder-to-access tumors in the spine or vertebra using microscopes in surgery. If a tumor can’t be removed completely, surgery might be followed with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or both.
- Radiation therapy. Traditional radiation therapy is often the first line treatment for vertebral cancerous tumors. Radiation therapy utilized radio beams, x-rays or other charged particles to help eliminate remnants of any spinal tumors after surgery. It’s also used to treat inoperable tumors or tumors where surgery is too risky.
- Chemotherapy. A common treatment for many types of cancer that uses strong drugs to destroy tumors or stop cancer cells from growing or ease pain. There are more than 100 types of chemotherapy drugs which can be taken by IV, orally or in pill form.
CyberKnife treatment for spine cancer
CyberKnife radiosurgery is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for spine cancer. It uses radiotherapy to precisely target and kill cancerous cells in tumors while greatly reducing the damage done to healthy cells. Treatment is non-invasive, requires fewer sessions, and is often more effective. Research data supports the use of CyberKnife for spinal column and vertebral tumors.
The system can treat tumors and other problems in virtually any area of the body. CyberKnife is often the best or only option for patients with hard to reach or inoperable tumors. It is also an excellent option for those who would otherwise have unacceptable side effects or complications when treated by other methods, or require treatment after other attempts to treat have failed.
Risks of spine cancer treatments
While CyberKnife has virtually no risks, most cancer treatments can have side effects. Depending on the type of treatment, the stage of the cancer and personal factors that vary with each patient, they can include:
- Allergic reaction to medications
- Infections from invasive procedures
- Fatigue and nausea from chemo and radiation therapy
- Complications from surgery and accompanying anesthesia
- CyberKnife treatments rarely have any significant side effects