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Advanced Procedure for Cancerous Spinal Tumors


Many advanced cancers, including those originating in the breast, lung and prostate, may metastasize (spread) to the spine. As a metastatic tumor grows in the spinal area, it expands, displacing or destroying healthy tissue and creating pressure on the spine, spinal cord, and spinal nerves.

The most common symptom of spinal metastasis is persistent back pain, which usually starts off as a dull ache, and progresses slowly to become acute pain. Other symptoms include spine deformity, neurological dysfunction, incontinence of the bowel or bladder and/or changes in balance or walking.

Treatment for spinal metastasis depends on the type and location of the tumor, how far the tumor has spread, and the general health of the patient. Common treatment options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery or medication. An additional treatment option is available at New York Methodist Hospital.

The procedure, which was developed at New York Methodist, builds on a standard treatment kyphoplasty in which a neurosurgeon injects a cement-like material in the spine to eradicate pain. Doctors mix samarium, a radioactive material that kills cancer cells, with the cement-like material that is injected into the spine to treat the cancer as well as the pain.

Called vertebral intracavitary cement and Samarium (VICS, for short), the procedure is performed under local anesthesia in approximately one hour. Most patients feel immediate pain relief and return home the same day.

For an appointment, call 718.780.3677

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