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  • Active surveillance

    Also called watchful waiting or monitoring, if small tumors are noncancerous and aren't growing or pressing on surrounding tissues, your doctor may recommend not treating the tumor yet. You will receive regular check-ups and tests to keep monitoring the condition.

  • Surgery

    Few patients receive surgery for spinal tumors due to the risk and nearby location of nerves. However, newer techniques are making it an option for some patients. Surgery may be followed by radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or both, to ensure removal or destroying of all cancerous cells. Types of surgery include:

    • Posterolateral resection: The spine tumor is removed through an incision in the back, and the spine and bones are then reinforced. This operation can reduce complications and shorten recovery time.

    • En bloc resection: This technique is for tumors that can be removed in a single piece. It can be used for giant cell tumors, low-grade chondrosarcomas, and chordomas located in the bones of your spine or next to your spine.

    • Metastatic Spine Tumor Surgery: Techniques such as spinal cord decompression can relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. It also frees up room in the spine to then proceed to high-dose radiation therapy.

    • Spinal angiography: Spinal angiography can reduce blood loss in surgery. Your surgeon will inject a contrast dye and take an X-ray to see where the blood vessels are. An interventional radiologist then injects small beads into these vessels to prevent bleeding.

  • Radiation therapy

    High energy X-rays, gamma rays or proton beams are aimed at a tumor to kill cancer cells or shrink a tumor. Radiation therapy can be the main treatment if surgery is not an option. It can also help relieve symptoms caused by a tumor. There are two main types of standard radiation therapy:

    • Internal radiation therapy: A small amount of a radioactive substance delivers radiation right to the inside of the cancer cells using a needle, wire or catheter. Or it might be delivered using tiny seeds (brachytherapy) that your surgeon would implant near the tumor. Your radiation specialist will discuss the best therapy for you.

    • External beam radiation therapy: With external beam radiation therapy, you will rest comfortably, lying flat. The radiation machine will slowly rotate around your body. It will deliver a carefully pointed radiation beam toward the tumor or cancerous growth. Sylvester Cancer Center technology ensures minimal or no radiation exposure to your healthy body tissue. Types of external beam radiation therapy include:

      • 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT): A computer creates a 3-dimensional (3-D) picture of the brain or spinal cord tumor. This allows us to give the highest possible dose of radiation to the tumor.

      • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): This is also a type of 3-D radiation therapy. Thin radiation beams of different intensities (strengths) hit the tumor from many angles.

      • Stereotactic radiosurgery: A single dose of radiation is aimed directly at a brain tumor. Stereotaxic radiosurgery and radiosurgery are other names for this technique. It is not a surgical procedure.

      • Gamma Knife Radiosurgery: Focuses one large dose of radiation to small tumors (less than 3 centimeters) with pinpoint accuracy.

  • Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. The drugs either kill the cells or stop them from growing and spreading. Adjuvant chemotherapy is chemotherapy after surgery or a biopsy. Chemotherapy may be given as a liquid into a vein or muscle using an IV (short for intravenous); taken orally by mouth, as pills; or delivered right into the fluid-filled space around the brain.