Spine Tumors: Diagnosis & Treatment at the Spine Tumor Center

Pictured: Mark Bilsky, Eric Lis, Josh Yamada, and George Krol Members of the Spine Tumor Center, including (left to right) neurosurgeon Mark Bilsky, neuroradiologist Eric Lis, radiation oncologist Josh Yamada, and neuroradiologist George Krol, work together closely to plan every patient's treatment.

Each year, more than 1,500 people come to the Spine Tumor Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering for expert diagnosis and treatment. Our multidisciplinary spine tumor team is made up of international leaders in neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, radiation oncology, and neuroradiology who are innovators in the field. Our staff also includes physiatrists (physicians who specialize in rehabilitation medicine), physical therapists, occupational therapists, and nurses with special expertise in addressing the challenges that people with spine tumors face.

At the Spine Tumor Center, patients see multiple spine tumor specialists all on the same day. Our team collaborates from the beginning on all aspects of care, and meets at least twice a week to develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient. This unique approach ensures that every patient benefits from the collective experience of our entire team, and that your treatment will be comprehensive, timely, and well coordinated. Depending on the specific features of your disease, treatment goals may include completely eliminating the tumor; controlling tumor growth; stabilizing the spine and relieving pain; and/or improving mobility, neurologic function, and quality of life.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, treating spine tumors is safer and more effective than ever before. Our team is experienced in using the most-advanced diagnostic technologies, high-precision surgical and radiation therapy techniques, and minimally invasive procedures to stabilize the spine and relieve pain. Rehabilitation therapy is also included in each patient’s treatment plan to help reduce pain and restore key functions.

Advances in technology and new therapeutic techniques, including several developed by our physicians, have dramatically improved the safety and effectiveness of treating a spine tumor. For example:

  • New surgical approaches and instrumentation techniques to decompress the spinal cord and stabilize the spine have reduced the amount of time patients typically spend in the operating room from eight hours to less than two hours.
  • Technology for monitoring neurologic function continuously during surgery helps surgeons avoid injury to the spinal cord.
  • Innovative radiation techniques, including stereotactic radiosurgery, that deliver high doses of radiation with exquisite precision have opened up a wide array of effective treatment options for patients with spine tumors.
  • Minimally invasive procedures for stabilizing the spine have made surgery and radiation therapy safer for many patients.
  • Botox injections that are now used routinely to quiet muscle spasms that can occur after surgery or radiation therapy, reducing pain and improving mobility.

These advances have made it possible for more people to receive treatment for spine tumors and experience a better quality of life.

Learn more about how we diagnose and treat spine tumors.