Neck Pain Caused By Cancer Metastases

Cancer elsewhere in the body can spread through the blood or via the lymphatic system into the neck region. Some cancers seem to have an affinity to bone when it comes to metastasizing.

For instance metastatic breast cancer, advanced prostate cancer and metastatic lung cancer are often found to metastasize into bone. The physician can order a bone scan, which in these cases would often show abnormal uptake in the bone from a metastasis in a vertebral body of the cervical spine.

The danger for the patient when this happens is a possible collapse of the vertebral body and further spread locally into the surrounding tissues including the spinal cord. If the metastasis is a solitary metastasis, it might be able to be irradiated with a radiaoctive cobalt beam or other form of radiotherapy.

Sometimes an osteolytic metastasis might switch to become osteoblastic. What this means is that a lesion that was undermining the strength of the bone is switching to actually build up strong bone.

After that the radiation might on top lead to either a cure or else lead to a prolonged remission. Often life threatening quadriplegia can be avoided by recognizing such danger early. One of the earliest signs might be pain in the region of the spinal column.

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Disclaimer

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.

References

1. ABC of rheumatology, second edition, edited by Michael L. Snaith , M.D., BMJ Books, 1999. Chapter 2.

2. D Irnich et al. BMJ 2001 Jun 30;322(7302):1574.

3. The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beers et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999. Chapter 140.

4. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 21st ed.(©2000)W.B.Saunders

5. Ferri: Ferri's Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc.

6. Rakel: Conn's Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

7. Suzanne Somers: "Breakthrough" Eight Steps to Wellness-- Life-altering Secrets from Today's Cutting-edge Doctors", Crown Publishers, 2008

Last Modified: March 19, 2012