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AANS: Radiosurgery Can Help Spinal Cord Compression

Treatment improved neurological deficits in 75 percent of patients with metastatic cancer

TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Stereotactic radiosurgery may help relieve neurological deficits in some patients with spinal cord compression due to cancer metastasis, according to a study presented this week at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons meeting in Washington, D.C.

Ian Lee, M.D., and colleagues of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, followed 36 patients with spinal cord compression who were treated with stereotactic radiotherapy for at least three months after treatment. Sixteen of the patients had neurological deficits prior to treatment, with 10 of these occurring secondary to spinal cord compression.

The investigators found that 75 percent of patients with prior neurological deficit were stable or improved after radiosurgery. Four patients clinically worsened. In those without neurological deficit prior to radiosurgery, 84.6 percent were stable or clinically improved at follow-up as were 70 percent of patients with spinal cord compression. The remainder of patients in both groups continued to deteriorate.

"Based on these preliminary results, we feel that radiosurgery may be considered as an alternative to surgery when patients with malignant spinal cord compression are ambulatory and especially when the tumor is radiosensitive," Lee said in a prepared statement. "However, in patients who are not able to walk, based on deteriorating strength in their legs, and especially if their tumors are not radiosensitive, surgery remains the best option."

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