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New Treatment For Spinal Cancer Patients In Pain


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Dr. Sean Kenniff


(CBS4) POMPANO BEACH - When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it can have devastating effects on the body both mentally and physically. Several cancers can spread to the spine creating tumors that cause excruciating pain.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a treatment for these tumors which provides some much needed relief and an improved quality of life.

36-year old Eric Plummer is a family man who loves spending time with his three small children.

Recurring back pain was keeping him from playing with his kids.

"I had a real kind of substantial back pain that I had been fighting that had gotten progressively worse over the years," said Plummer.

Visits to the chiropractor didn't help.

So Plummer had an MRI that revealed his problem was much more serious.

"I've got bad news. We know why your back is hurting you and you've got cancer," said Plummer.

The news came one day after Father's day.

Plummer was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to the spine.

"The L3 vertebra was so diseased by the cancer that there was risk of it collapsing," said Plummer.

Interventional radiologist Dr. Charles Tate with Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale suggested Plummer undergo a procedure called a vertebroplasty.

It was recently improved to treat spine tumors which are extremely painful.

"This procedure allows us to go in and kill a certain area where the tumor is located in the spine and replace that killed tumor with a material we call cement," said Tate.

A wand delivers a radio frequency signal that vaporizes the tumor.

The surgical cement is used to prevent the bone from collapsing which could cause paralysis.

Tate says it not only reduces pain and builds bone; it also rebuilds hope.

"I think for those people who suffer grievously from this particular problem, I think it's a potential godsend for them," said Tate.

A godsend it was for Plummer, who's quality of life has improved tremendously.

“The relief was immediate. I could bend over freely play with the kids it's been liberating," said Plummer.

The best part is it's done on an outpatient basis. Patients can return home a few hours after the procedure.

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