The treatment is Stereotactic Spinal Radiosurgery and with it, surgeons use X-Rays to pinpoint a tumor in the spine without harming healthy surrounding tissue. It can be done in under an hour and requires only an outpatient visit.
Spinal radiosurgery is primarily used to treat spinal metastases, that is when cancer has spread from another part of the body to the spine. Tumors that grow in the spine can be excruciatingly painful and patients fare better the earlier they are treated.
Spinal radiosurgery can halt tumor progression and sometimes even reduce tumor size and associated pain within days or weeks and because it is non-invasive there is little to no recovery time following the procedure.
Spinal metastases have traditionally been treated using chemotherapy and conventional radiation. Because newer procedures like spinal radiosurgery take time to proliferate into the medical establishment, it is often overlooked.
“Radiosurgery should be considered early in many cases,” says Dr. Ogden. “It can target the tumor more accurately than conventional radiation, ultimately allowing for smaller doses and sparing toxicity to adjacent tissues, such as bone marrow. Marrow is always a concern for oncologists because they fear hematologic complications from radiation. Often they prefer to try to treat metastasis with chemo and no conventional radiation for this reason. The problem is that when chemo fails, the metastasis often progresses to the point where the patient needs open spinal surgery.”
Dr. Ogden also says that with spinal radiosurgery, “We can now give a very anatomically precise dose in a single treatment session rather than an imprecise dose that has to spread out over many treatments.”
Stereotactic spinal radiosurgery is offered through the Spine Center here at New York Presbyterian Hospital and it is worth consideration. It has the potential to help a lot of people.