The most common tumors of the spine are metastases. Their primary tumors are usually found in:
- the prostate
- the lungs
- the breast
- the thyroid gland
- the kidneys
- sometimes they are of unknown origin
- multiple infestations of the spine due to blood disease, multiple myeloma
Metastases of the spine cause vertebral fractures and instability.The tumor and/or fracture can put pressure on nerves or the spinal cord. The patient suffers from pain and signs of paralysis.
The treatment of spinal tumors is multidisciplinary adn involves oncologists and radio-oncologists. A concept of treatment is worked out, which decides whether chemotherapy and radiotherapy should be performed preceding and/or following the operation. In an emergency involving paralysis or the danger of paralysis, a surgical decompression of the spinal cord is imperative.
Usually, a palliative operation is the only possibility. Its goal is to ease the pain, guarantee the mobility and independence of the patient and to improve signs of paralysis. The tumor is removed, the nerves and spinal chord are decompressed and the stability of the spine is re-established using implants.