Radiation therapy (RT), also called radiotherapy and external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), is a common type of treatment for spine cancer and spine metastasis—cancer that has migrated to the spine from another part of the body. The prescribed dose of radiation is aimed at the tumor to stop or slow its growth, or eliminate it. A course of EBRT typically involves several daily treatments, called fractions, over the course over a few days to a few weeks. Radiation can be used alone or in addition to surgery or chemotherapy.
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), also called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), delivers a high dose of radiation to a focused target in either a single session or a small number of fractions. SRS is often called ‘knifeless’ surgery due to the ability to precisely target cancer cells, typically in a single session, while sparing surrounding healthy spine tissue and critical structures like the spinal cord. Studies show that when performed as a primary treatment in spine metastasis from some cancers, like renal cell carcinoma, SRS provides relatively better pain relief and better local control than that obtained from RT.1
SRS can be delivered in two ways:
See Understand Radiation Therapy for Spine Disorders for a more in-depth discussion of the treatment technologies.
1 Practice Update