Diagnosis & Treatment at the Spine Tumor Center

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.

Pictured: Mark Bilsky
Neurosurgeon Mark Bilsky on Stereotactic Radiosurgery for Spine Tumors
The director of the Spine Tumor Center explains how this new, high-powered approach to radiation therapy has changed the way spine tumors are treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
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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.

  • Diagnosis & Treatment Planning

    Our spine tumor experts collaborate from the beginning to assess your tumor and have developed a sophisticated system for determining which treatments will be most effective.

  • Radiation Therapy

    Memorial Sloan Kettering has pioneered highly effective radiation therapy for spine tumors, with techniques that can reduce the risk of injury to the spinal cord.

  • Minimally Invasive Therapies to Stabilize the Spine

    Memorial Sloan Kettering’ s interventional radiologists have refined several nonsurgical techniques that can stabilize the spine, repair vertebral fractures before radiation therapy or surgery, and provide pain relief.

  • Surgery

    Surgeons at Memorial Sloan Kettering are among the most experienced and have worked to make spine surgery a much safer, more effective option for many patients.

  • Systemic Therapies for Metastatic Disease

    Chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and bone-protecting treatments are sometimes used to control tumor growth and reduce the risk of vertebral fractures.

  • Pain Management & Rehabilitation

    At Memorial Sloan Kettering, pain management and rehabilitation are an integral part of the treatment plan. Specialists will work closely with your treatment team to reduce pain and restore your function and mobility.