Cancer of the spine occurs in up to 40 percent of cancer patients and is the result of abnormal growth of cells in or around the spinal cord that forms a tumor. These cells can come from the spine itself as a primary tumor or as a metastasis from other parts of the body. Primary tumors can either be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Metastatic spinal tumors may spread from the lung, breast, skin, or colon and migrate through the bloodstream or nerves to form a tumor in the spine.
Both primary and metastatic spine tumors are of great concern because they can compress the spinal cord and/or destroy the bone and surrounding tissue in the spine. These tumors cause patients to experience pain, movement and posture problems, and other neurological issues. As these tumors grow larger, patients can become paralyzed if the tumor causes significant spinal cord compression.
Symptoms of spinal tumors include: back pain, difficulty walking, sexual dysfunction, limb weakness, and numbness or pain. The diagnosis of cancer of the spine must be confirmed through a combination of a physical examination and imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and/or computerized tomography (CT) scans.
Tumor types treated
The following lists detail the tumor malignancies most commonly affecting the spine that can often be treated with CyberKnife, depending on clinical situation:
- Arteriovenous malformations
- Other: giant cell tumor, aneurysmal bone cyst, epidermoid
- Spinal metastases from many sources
- Ewing sarcoma