Cancer is complex — there is no routine spine tumor, nor is there a routine way to treat it.

For spine tumors, the first treatments often represent the very best opportunity to put the cancer into remission or effectively treat it with the least amount of side effects.

The OSUCCC — James is a world leader in spine cancer treatment, developing some of the very latest advancements in molecular testing and targeting cancer genes – technology that’s available at only a few cancer centers in the country. In fact, our physician experts help write the national clinical guidelines for treating specific cancers.

As one of only four cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the region and more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options.

In fact, OSUCCC – James experts are currently working with engineers to build personalized spine models for each spine tumor patient. Using something called biodynamics, these sub-specialized oncology surgeons will actually be able to see the patient’s cancer in 3-D and determine what the surgery will look like – before it takes place – offering even greater precision, faster response times and less side effects for the patients.

Other advances include radiosurgery (gamma knife technology) for spine tumors. The procedure, which is currently done on brain tumors, is now being studied for spine tumor patients in combination with a surgery called vertibroplasty, which would enable surgeons to inject chemotherapy directly into the affected vertebrae.

The OSUCCC – James treatment team includes internationally recognized spine cancer experts and world-renowned subspecialists, including neuro surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, neuro psychologists spine cancer researchers, genomic experts and more. Working together and across medical disciplines, this super subspecialized team develops individualized, highly targeted treatment plans that specifically target the molecular and biological makeup of your individual cancer.

Spine Tumor Treatment

The OSUCCC – James is a leader in offering some of the world’s most advanced, sophisticated treatments for spine tumor patients.

Every person’s cancer is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disease. At the OSUCCC – James, our cancer sub-specialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on spine disorders and who reach across medical disciplines (medical oncologists, pathologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, spine cancer researchers, genomic experts and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

You may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments and may benefit from new therapies available in clinical trials.

Spine tumors treatment is based on the following:

  • The type of tumor
  • Where the tumor formed 
  • The amount of cancer left after surgery
  • The grade of the tumor
  • The molecular makeup of the tumor

The following treatments are available to treat spine tumors:


Surgery may consist of a biopsy when a small piece of tumor is removed, or a tumor resection when a larger portion of the tumor is removed. Surgery is not always recommended for patients with spine tumors. Your OSUCCC – James healthcare team will access your tumor and may or may not recommend surgery.

Types of surgeries:

The type of surgery your doctor recommends will depend on the type of tumor, its location and the symptoms you are experiencing. If you have weakness, numbness or paralysis of arms and legs or a change in bladder or bowel function, an open surgical procedure may be necessary.

Closed procedure (vertebroplasty) – Using a needle, the surgeon injects special cement into the vertebral body damaged by the tumor.

Open procedures – These procedures may be done with a surgical incision on the front or back

  • Decompression: to remove bone that has the tumor and to increase the space around the spinal cord and nerves. 
  • Stabilization: application of screws, rods or cement to stabilize the spinal column
  • Combination: both the above procedures; may be staged one or more days apart.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses X-rays to reach and destroy cancer cells. Radiation is often used to treat specific areas of the body. Radiation is delivered to the area of the tumor only to prevent damage to other, normal parts of the spine. 


Chemotherapy uses specialized drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by destroying the cells or by preventing them from making new cells. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and grade of the spine tumor being treated.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies are drugs that attack cancer cells without destroying healthy surrounding cells. By delivering these drugs in combination with chemotherapy, targeted therapies interrupt certain proteins and receptors to stop cancer cells from growing. These drugs tend to have less severe side effects and are usually tolerated better than traditional chemotherapy drugs.

(Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

Spine Tumor Research & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after their cancer treatments.

The OSUCCC – James has hundreds of open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients not only have access to more cancer clinical trials here than at nearly any other hospital in the region, but they also have access to some of the most advanced, targeted treatments and drugs available anywhere. These include several novel spine tumor trials such as new vaccines against spine tumors, viruses that divide in spine tumor cells and kill them, ways to overcome resistance to currently used treatments and antibodies that link to specific proteins and block tumor growth. 

The OSUCCC – James is one of only four U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results. 

Additionally, Ohio State has nearly 300 cancer researchers dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, move, spread or reoccur. Because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and make them available to patients sooner.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a spine tumor, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a spine cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 W. 10th Ave.

Columbus, Ohio 43210


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