Spinal tumor recurrence is understandably often on the mind of a patient who has undergone treatment. While recurrence can happen at any time after a patient completes therapy, it tends to be more likely to arise within the first three years. Because the most common type of spine cancer originates in a distant area of the body, such as a lung, breast, kidney or prostate, and then metastasizes to the spine, the ongoing monitoring of spine cancer patients is especially important.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our Neuro-Oncology Program’s multispecialty team advises regular follow-up appointments and periodic screening tests for our spine cancer patients. Some of the methods we use to detect early signs of spinal tumor recurrence include:
- Physical examinations – A physician can review potential symptoms and examine a patient for possible signs of recurrence.
- Diagnostic imaging tests – CT scans, MRIs, mammograms and bone scans can provide detailed and accurate pictures of a patient’s health.
- Blood tests – Elevated levels of certain substances produced by cancer cells, which are known as tumor markers, can signal a return of the cancer or the development of a new cancer.
- Bone marrow biopsies – A small sample of a patient’s bone marrow cells can be analyzed under a microscope for evidence of cancer.
Moffitt is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida, and is continually developing innovative techniques for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of spine cancer. A fundamental part of our program is extensive research carried out through innovative clinical trials. In this way, we are able to investigate the effectiveness of promising new modalities to improve spine cancer survival rates and provide our patients with a higher quality of life.