I don’t think I can ever express how thankful we are to doctors Jandial and Chen and what they have done for my family. They gave us another chance. They did the impossible." Joel Torres, Spinal surgery patient
Cancer patients frequently develop tumors that spread to the spine, yet few specialists know how to navigate this complex region of the body. City of Hope neurosurgeons regularly treat difficult spinal cases and use their expertise to design innovative, less invasive surgical approaches — including using fewer incisions to remove most of the tumor tissue to preserve patient functioning and quality of life.
Neurosurgeons Mike Chen, M.D., Ph.D. and Rahul Jandial, M.D., Ph.D. lead the spine tumor program. This team invented a technique designed to reduce the number of incisions needed to perform complex spine surgery, resulting in a safer procedure with fewer complications, less bleeding and faster healing.
According to the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, City of Hope is possibly the busiest spine surgery center in Southern California.
As a comprehensive cancer center, City of Hope offers integrated cancer care by a multidisciplinary team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pain management specialists, who together create treatment plans tailored to each patient.
City of Hope is a nationally recognized leader in the research and treatment of spinal tumors. We are one of the few facilities designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute, and for over a decade, U.S. News & World Report has named City of Hope one of the top cancer hospitals in America.
If you have been diagnosed with a spinal tumor or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, request and appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.
"There is an immense gratification to be able to use all of your skills to remove a complex tumor and in the process help a fellow human being." Mike Chen, M.D.,Ph.D., neurosurgeon and scientist
Cancers that begin in the spine are exceedingly rare and are diagnosed either as primary tumors — starting in the spine and surrounding structures — or metastatic tumors, which travel to brain tissue from other organs. In 2016, around 78,000 people in the United Stated will be diagnosed with a primary brain or spinal tumor — most of which will be benign (noncancerous). Some common types of cancer that develop as primary spinal tumors include:
Brain and spinal tumors occur in both children and adults, although treatment for each group tends to be different. Although they are rare, brain and spinal cord tumors are the third most common type of childhood cancer.
Spinal cancer develops when abnormal cells in the spinal cord grow and divide in an uncontrolled way, interfering with normal functioning. There are more than 120 types of brain and central nervous system tumors and they are classified based on the origin of the cells and how aggressively they behave. In both children and adults, spinal tumors are most often benign.
Things that put you at higher risk for getting brain and spinal cancer are called risk factors. There are very few known causes of primary tumors, although certain genetic syndromes may increase risk including:
Infections such as Epstein-Barr virus and AIDS may increase risk of brain and spinal tumors, and receiving an organ transplant also increases the risk of certain central nervous system-related cancers.
Symptoms of adult spinal cord tumors are not the same in every person and depend on the stage, location and size of the tumor. Some common symptoms include:
Other medical conditions share these symptoms. If you have any of these conditions, you may need further consultation to rule out spinal cancer.
Brain and spinal tumors are highly complex, requiring an expert and deeply experienced team that can accurately diagnose your tumor type — so that you get the best and most effective treatment. City of Hope’s team of highly trained, nationally recognized experts use their clinical expertise, honed by seeing many different tumor types, to provide you with the most accurate diagnosis.
A biopsy (a thin sliver of tissue taken from the tumor) may occur after initial imaging and neurologic testing, or it may occur at the earliest stage of diagnosis.
There are two main ways to perform biopsy for brain and spinal cancers, including:
If it is suspected that cancer has spread through the cerebrospinal fluid, a spinal tap may be performed. A spinal tap is more commonly used when certain tumor types are suspected to have spread there, such as a lymphomas or ependymomas.
Think of the dual surgeon approach as having two pilots. By having the combined experience of two neurosurgeons, you dramatically reduce blood loss and operative times, and more important, redefine what is considered ‘inoperable.'" Rahul Jandial, M.D.,Ph.D., neurosurgeon and scientist
One of the most feared complications of cancer is when it involves the spine. A complex network of bones, nerves and arteries may be affected and, in severe cases, spinal cord compression may lead to paralysis. For these reasons, treatment options for spinal tumors are not always black and white. It takes a deeply experienced team, accustomed to treating complicated cases, to weigh the best — and most individualized — options available to you.
Spinal tumor treatment options depend on a few factors including:
Treatment options we offer for spinal tumors include:
Your care continues long after treatment is completed, and we are committed to helping you and your loved ones manage your recovery.
City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers use the latest in technology and innovation to treat cancer— coupled with an enduring belief in providing compassionate care. Call 800-826-HOPE or go online to request an appointment.
Interventional Pain Management
Clinical trials – research studies that involve volunteer patients – are a crucial component to developing new, more effective treatments that save lives. Many of today’s standard therapies are based on the results of previous trials, some of which were initiated at City of Hope.
Getting treated for spinal tumors at City of Hope means you are steps away from labs where new treatments for cancer are being developed every day. That proximity means you benefit from something unique in cancer care — bench to bedside treatment. “Bench to bedside” means innovative research we are conducting in our labs is moved quickly to the bedside to treat our patients. We offer drug, surgical and other clinical trials aimed at improving survival rates and enhancing quality of life.
City of Hope is a recognized leader in spinal tumor research. We offer access to numerous clinical trials and new therapies that are not readily available elsewhere. Our latest research includes developing more precise surgical and radiation techniques for better tumor removal, identifying better drugs that help prevent relapses and finding chemotherapy agents that are more effective against the cancer or less toxic for the patient.
All City of Hope neurosurgeons have active research laboratories — with projects ranging from defining the behavior of metastatic brain tumors, to inventing smaller, nimbler tools for hard to reach tumors.
When you come to City of Hope, you have access to a strong network of support services and staff to help you and your family along your cancer journey — and help improve you quality of life both during and after treatment for your spinal tumor. That support includes everything from talk therapy to meditation to being paired up with a patient navigator and includes support for:
We deliver exquisite care at the leading edge of cancer treatment. It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts over 100 years ago. Their efforts — and those of our supporters today — have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct.