Thursday, August 13, 2020

Brain & Spine Disorders

Metastatic Tumors to the Spine

Tumors of the spine and spinal cord are relatively uncommon. The most common initial symptom that patients with a spinal tumor have is pain. Because back pain is very common, it is also not a specific symptom of any one disease or medical condition. Spinal tumors can be either primary (originating in the spine) or secondary (metastases of cancer that originated elsewhere in the body). Therefore, the challenge is to determine how to evaluate back pain with the goal of specifically excluding a tumor as the cause of the pain. Luckily, most back pain is not due to a tumor. However, if a cancer were discovered after a long period of "conservative" management of back pain, most patients would feel that their problem should have been investigated more thoroughly in the beginning.

Benign Tumors
Doctors use the term "benign" to indicate that a particular tumor is unlikely to spread to others parts of the body. Benign tumors can still be a significant problem however, depending upon their location, size, adjacent structures, blood supply, and other factors. Fortunately, most benign tumors can be treated successfully.  Dr. Aryan has specialized training in treating tumors of the spine utilizing advanced microsurgery and complex spinal reconstruction.

Malignant Lesions - Metastasis

Metastatic Cancer
Doctors use the term "malignant" to indicate that a particular tumor or a cancer often spreads to other parts of the body, and can be difficult to cure or treat. This is very different from "benign" cancers, which are much less likely to spread, are easier to treat and control.

The spine and it surrounding elements have a generous blood supply, draining many of the structures of the lower abdominal cavity by way of the system of veins called the Batson's Plexus. This venous plexus is felt to be the reason that certain intra-abdominal and pelvic tumors have a tendency to spread to the spine. The spread, or metastasis, of tumors to the spine from elsewhere in the body may occur after a cancer has been growing in another part of the body.Metastasis - Lung Cancer

Tumors that have spread to the spine usually cause a significant amount of pain. If they are large enough, they may put pressure on the spinal cord, which causes increasing pain and loss of normal functioning in the bowel, bladder, and legs.

Metastatic cancer may not always be curable, but the treatment goals are usually directed at relief from pain, decompression of the neural elements (removing the pressure that the tumor is placing on the spinal cord and nerves), and preserving the patient's quality of life as much as possible. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiosurgery/radiation therapy all play a role in reducing the pain associated with cancers that have spread to the spine.

Many metastatic lesions that were once treated with radiation alone are amenable to surgery.  In recent years, surgery plus radiation has been shown to be more effective than radiation alone.  Furthermore, surgery may correct a deformity caused by the tumor and remove pressure on the spinal cord allowing a person to continue to walk and maintain function of bladder and bowel.  Consult with a neurosurgeon to see if surgery is right for you.  Dr. Aryan specializes in surgery for metastatic spinal tumors.  Surgery ranges from outpatient minimally invasive (i.e. kyphoplasty) to aggressive total resection.  Dr. Aryan also routinely performs radiosurgery for metastatic disease.

Tumors of the Spine

Spine Disorders

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