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Minimally invasive treatment can cure early spinal tumour

Somya(32) name changed, homemaker, mother of two was focusing her energies more on her kids and home that she used to ignore the pain on left side of upper back. Not paying much heed to it thinking that the tiredness would have caused it, the pain has continuous for over one year. Over time, gradually the pain had aggravated, so much that it was unbearable and shooting pain would cause discomfort. It is only when she started noticing loss of sensation in her arms and legs, she decided to get consultation says Dr Aditya Gupta, Director, Neurosurgery and Cyberknife Centre, Agrim institute for neuro sciences, Artemis Hospital.

She had been visiting various general physicians but the problem persisted. She then decided to approach the neuro team at Artemis Hospital. Upon complete investigation and examination, the problem was identified as early stage spinal tumor. It was of limited size, and not yet compressing the spinal cord, hence the team decided to take up the case under treatment through the use of cyberknife.

The decision was taken, keeping in mind the location and limited size of the tumor. Conventional surgery was an alternative, but had a small but real risk of leaving the patient paralyzed. Given the small size of the tumor, the risk would not have been advisable. This is where cyberknife becomes effective and without any risk, the pain-free non-invasive method was used to treat her stage 1 spinal tumor.

The team took only half an hour in the cyberknife operating room with one session and the patient was cured completely, without any hassle. Even on regular visits the patient condition is as normal as before and all the radiographic reports reveal that the tumor has regressed.  

Spinal tumor types

It is the growth of tumour that develops within the bones of spine. It can be Benign or malignant.

There are three common types of tumors that may affect the spinal cord.

1)    Intra-medullary Tumors – It develops in cells that are present within the spinal cord. Examples are Astrocytoma and Ependymoma.

2)    Extra-medullary Tumors – It develops within the supporting network of cells that are around the spinal cord. This type of tumor affects the spinal cord function. Examples are Meningiomas, Schwannomas, Neurofibromas.  

3)    Vertebral Column Tumors

·         Primary Tumors – It occurs in the vertebral column and develops either from the bone or disc of spine. Osteogenic Sarcoma is the bone tumour which comes under this category. These are very rare and grow slowly and typically occur from the age group 21-50.

·         Metastatic Tumors – This Tumor spread from one area to another area of the body. The pain is worse and is accompanied by other signs of serious illness such as weight loss, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.

The growth of any kind of spinal tumor can lead to pain, neurological problems and sometimes, it can be life-threatening and can even cause permanent disability.

In women, spinal tumor spread from cancer cells that originate from breasts or lungs whereas in, in case of Men, it spreads from tumor cells that originate from lungs or prostate.

What are the symptoms?

As the tumor grows, it affects the spinal cord, gradually. Depending on the location and the type of tumor, the severity may vary from person to person. The usual symptoms include back pain, loss of sensation especially in legs and arms, difficulty in walking, decrease in body immunity and sensitivity to pain, increase in heat and cold sensitivity, loss of bowel movement control and muscle weakness. Back pain is the early and the foremost symptom in both cancerous and noncancerous tumors.

Why cyberknife is preferred over other methods of treatment?

Though many other treatment methods may be available for treating spinal tumors but due to the advantage of being totally non-invasive and eliminates the requirement of any kind of anesthetics, cyberknife is a very useful tool saving the patient’s time and helping in better and quicker recovery. Cyberknife radiation surgery is a form of radio surgery that uses precisely targeted radiation to destroy tumors. This system is non-invasive and prevents any kind of blood loss eliminating the need for anesthesia.

The cyberknife system is unique designed robotic system that delivers high-precision surgical procedures.

Treatment for spinal tumors remaining a challenge in India, due to the reason that only limited technology is available, and also the fact that the spine is sensitive and can receive only limited amount of radiation. Cyberknife being flexible in producing radiations is one of the best options for treatment of spinal tumor.

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