Radiation Therapy for Spinal Cord Tumors

Doctors at NYU Langone may use external beam radiation therapy, which delivers targeted beams of energy from a machine to eliminate malignant, or cancerous, tumors that begin in the spinal cord and for tumors that have returned after surgery. Radiation therapy may also be used for some benign, or noncancerous, tumors that are too large to be surgically removed without harming the spinal cord.

For people who can’t have surgery because of safety or health concerns, radiation therapy may be the only treatment recommended.

Our radiation oncologists use computer software to create a three-dimensional image of the spinal cord and nearby tissues. This helps our doctors to develop a treatment plan that targets the spinal cord tumor with the utmost precision, increasing the effectiveness of radiation therapy and reducing the risk of injury to nearby nerves and blood vessels.

Doctors at NYU Langone use a type of external beam radiation therapy known as intensity-modulated radiation therapy to treat spinal cord tumors. Doctors customize the therapy, using many computer-controlled doses of differing strengths and conforming it to the size, shape, and location of the tumor.

Rather than giving the entire radiation dose at one time, it is broken into many different doses, called fractions, over a period of several weeks. This approach aids in reducing side effects.

Managing Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

At NYU Langone, radiation oncologists can help alleviate common side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, irritation in the bladder and rectum, and a loss of sexual responsiveness. Our supportive and integrative health services can also help you manage these and other side effects that may arise, depending on the location of the tumor, both during and after treatment.