AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017


New Algorithm Decodes Spine Oncology Treatment

Experts explain their approach to treating patients who are living longer with cancer that has spread to the spine, as the options for metastatic spine tumors increase.


To resolve the confusion and address the continually changing landscape of spine oncology, a recent Michigan Medicine-led publication details a guide to explain the management of spinal metastases.

The work is the result of reviewing all of the existing studies and pulling in experts from across the world to provide insight. The goal, says senior author Nicholas Szerlip, M.D., a neurosurgeon at the University of Michigan, is to get all providers on the same page.

First author Daniel Spratt, M.D., who with Szerlip co-founded U-M’s multidisciplinary spine oncology clinic, says patients with spine metastases are commonly managed in silos without integrated care. A patient with a spine metastasis might see a variety of subspecialty doctors. Recommendations could range from pain management to more aggressive treatment, and referring providers don’t always know what will come out of a referral to spine oncology experts, or when a referral is necessary.

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