The diagnosis of cancer is given to more than one million individuals in the United States every year. 70% of these individuals also will develop skeletal metastases -- tumors from the spread of cancer to the skeletal system, which can mean painful symptoms and, frequently, uncomfortable and intensive treatment procedures.
Now, there is a revolutionary treatment option for metastases located on the spine. Called stereotactic spinal radiosurgery, this procedure can provide pain relief through a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that has no recovery time. Cleveland Clinic is one of only a few locations across the country to offer stereotactic spinal radiosurgery.
Effects of Spinal Metastases
Spinal metastases – the third most frequent site for the development of skeletal tumors– can cause acute, persistent pain. If left untreated, they can harm the bones of the spine, which can leads to spinal instability and often compression of the spinal cord or nerves. This can cause disabling pain, neurological dysfunction, and ultimately, paralysis. Stereotactic spinal radiosurgery can help alleviate pain that spinal metastases can cause.
Because of the serious consequences of spinal metastases, early treatment is essential. Traditional treatment options to provide spinal pain relief include analgesics (medications that reduce or eliminate pain), surgery, conventional radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Now, stereotactic spinal radiosurgery can be used as a stand-alone treatment for spinal metastases or as a supplement to another spinal treatment.
How Stereotactic Spinal Radiosurgery Works
The Burkhardt Brain Tumor Center has established a Stereotactic Spinal Radiosurgery Program to treat patients with spinal metastases. Unique technology is used to deliver a high dose of radiation to the spinal tumor(s). Both benign and malignant (cancerous) metastases can be treated. Spinal radiosurgery is able to target the tumor very precisely, thereby minimizing the radiation dose to nearby normal structures. This highly selective radiation dose often results in effective pain and/or tumor control. The treatment can be as simple as one session given on an outpatient basis.
Pain relief is the primary use of stereotactic spine radiosurgery; more than 80% of patients achieve pain relief, often within a few days to weeks. The procedure also can be used as the first line of treatment against tumors, for treating any residual tumor left after surgery, as a radiation boost following conventional treatment, and as another option when other treatments haven't been successful.
Advantages of the Procedure
Stereotactic spinal radiosurgery is a non-invasive procedure done on an outpatient basis and requires no recovery time. It often results in rapid pain control that can significantly and meaningfully improve your quality of life.