Treating spinal cord compression caused by secondary bone cancer
A common place for a secondary bone cancer to occur is the spine. This often causes back pain.
If this affects you, your doctors will make sure you have painkillers to relieve any discomfort.
Less often, the cancer can cause pressure on the nerves in the spine, known as spinal cord compression. Symptoms of spinal cord compression include:
- weakness in the arms and/or legs
- numbness or strange sensations in your legs, hands or around your bottom and genitals
- problems controlling or passing urine
- constipation or problems controlling your bowels.
If you develop any of these symptoms, it’s very important to let your doctor or specialist nurse know straight away. If you have spinal cord compression, treatment is needed as soon as possible to relieve the pressure and prevent permanent damage to the nerves, which could cause paralysis.
High doses of steroids are used to reduce the swelling and pressure around the spine. This is often followed by radiotherapy to shrink the cancer and reduce the pressure. Sometimes surgery may be used to relieve pain and strengthen the spine. The dose of steroids will be gradually reduced after radiotherapy or surgery.