Indications for nonoperative treatment of spinal cord compression due to breast cancer

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✓ A retrospective series of 12,478 patients with breast cancer included 2467 patients with spinal metastases. Local treatment was not necessary in 688 patients. Neurological deficit did not develop in 1735 patients who underwent radiotherapy. Forty-four patients developed myelopathy due to spinal cord compression as demonstrated by neurological examination and myelography. Twenty-six of these patients were initially treated by laminectomy and 18 were initially treated with radiotherapy. The two groups did not significantly differ in their outcome with respect to motor power, pain relief, or ability to walk. Six patients who underwent radiotherapy deteriorated during 2 months of treatment. Four of these patients were not operative candidates because of poor general condition (three patients) or long duration of paraplegia (one patient). Of two patients who underwent emergency laminectomy, one became paraplegic; however, the other patient was significantly improved. For this reason it is essential that patients undergoing radiotherapy for spinal cord compression be followed closely by a neurosurgeon. The authors believe that in appropriate cases radiotherapy alone can yield results as good as laminectomy combined with radiotherapy.

Article Information

Address reprint requests to: Cully A. Cobb, III, M.D., Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, 4301 X Street, Sacramento, California 95817.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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    Effect of treatment on motor function.

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    Effect of treatment on pain.

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    Effect of treatment on ability to walk in patients who could walk before treatment.

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    Effect of treatment on ability to walk in patients who could not walk before treatment.

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