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About 40 percent of cancer patients discover that their cancer has spread from its original location to the spine. Dr. William Regine, chair of the department of radiation oncology and interim chair of the department of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center and professor and chairman of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says that cancers of the breast, prostate and lung most commonly metastasize, or spread, to the bones in the spine. Pain is the primary symptom, and cancer patients who experience persistent back pain should be checked out by a physician, he says.
Dr. Regine says that these spinal tumors can be treated with a number of therapies, including surgery and radiation. In an interview with Karen Warmkessel, he says that the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center has a spine-directed oncology program which brings together specialists from such fields as neurology, orthopaedics and oncology to evaluate patients and devise individualized treatment plans.
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