Cancer treatment knocks out tumors in 30 minutes

October 4, 2010 9:49:48 AM PDT
A powerful treatment typically used for brain cancer is now taking aim at the spine.

A cancer diagnosis is given to more than 1 million Americans each year. Seventy percent of those diagnosed with cancer each year will develop skeletal metastasis, which are lesions on the skeletal system that are caused by the spread of cancer, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Nowadays, doctors are using a new treatment option for this kind of skeletal metastasis called spinal radiosurgery. This procedure provides pain relief through an outpatient procedure with little to no recovery time.

Early treatment of spinal metastasis is essential. Older treatment therapies included chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and medications. Now, spinal radiosurgery can be used alone or as a supplement to other treatments.

EFFECTS AND ADVANTAGES: Spinal metastasis can cause excruciating pain. If this is left untreated, bones of the spine can be harmed, and compression of the spinal cord and nerves is a result. Spinal radiosurgery is a non-invasive procedure performed in outpatient settings. With no recovery time needed, patients are able to maintain their quality of life.

USES: The goal of spinal radiosurgery is pain relief. Statistics demonstrate nearly 80 percent of patients actually achieve pain relief within a few days of treatment. In addition, doctors are also using spinal radiosurgery as treatment against tumors or to treat lingering tumors left after initial surgery. Furthermore, physicians are using spinal radiosurgery as a supplement following conventional treatment when other therapies have proven unsuccessful.

HOW IT'S DONE: According to UPMC Cancer Centers, patients are placed on a treatment table, much like that of a CT scan or MRI. During treatment, the staff talks to the patient through a microphone. A high dose of radiation is administered to the spinal tumor(s). Treatment can be as quick as one session.

SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects of spinal radiosurgery are minimal. The most common side effect is fatigue. Doctors suggest if you are feeling fatigued after treatment, pace your activities and take frequent breaks and rests throughout your day, make time for activities you enjoy, and always be sure to make time each day for a small amount of exercise (such as a short walk). Doctors say no activity can make you feel more tired throughout the day. Another side effect is temporary skin changes. Skin changes such as redness, dryness and itchiness may occur on or around the treated area. Skin will remain a different color for about one to two weeks after treatment. Other, less common side effects include nausea, vomiting, chills, a high temperature, and loss of bowel or bladder control.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Janet Christenbury, Associate Director of Media Relations
Emory University Hospital Midtown
(404) 727-8599
jmchris@emory.edu


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