This form of cancer develops in or near the spinal cord, or within a vertebrae. It is not limited to one vertebrae or section of the spine, and can potentially spread through multiple levels and lead to many complications.
Metastatic cancer of the spine is a result of cancerous cells moving to the spine from a tumor elsewhere in the body. Cancerous cells can travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system, or may grow directly through the spine openings. As these cancerous cells invasive healthy bone and tissue, a tumor may potentially grow and begin to compress the spinal cord and nerve roots at dangerous levels. Bones that become cancerous may even weaken to the point of collapsing.
Complications as a result of metastatic cancer of the spine vary based on location. A tumor that causes nerve compression or vertebral collapse can primarily cause pain. If untreated, this may result in a loss of nerve function below the tumor, which may include a complete or partial loss sensation or control of these areas, including the bladder.
A tumor that places pressure on the spinal cord could be fatal.
Treatment of metastatic cancer of the spine begins with monitoring to decide the best course of action for each particular case. Based on the severity of the cancer and location, different methods of treatment may be preferred. This may include medications or surgery to have the tumor removed. A further treatment plan may include radiation therapy, radiosurgery, or chemotherapy.