What to Expect

Common questions and answers relating to spinal cancer care.

If you have a spinal tumor or a spinal cord tumor, there’s a lot to consider. We’ll go through your treatment options and help you decide what’s best for you.

Patients often have a lot of questions about their care. That’s OK -- you should consider all of your options and we encourage you to keep asking questions along the way. We want you to be completely confident in the care we provide.

  • How does Henry Ford create my treatment plan for spinal cancer?

    We use a team approach to provide the best care possible. We create each treatment plan based on your unique needs, not a one-size-fits-all approach.

    Our experts meet regularly as part of a tumor board -- a specialized conference in which we discuss the available treatment options and recommend the best course of action for each patient. Our tumor board team members for spinal tumors and spinal cord tumors include:

    We consider your specific type of spinal tumor or spinal cord tumor when we decide on our treatment recommendations. We also consider:

    • Other medical conditions
    • Where the tumor is located
    • Your particular symptoms, such as pain, trouble walking, numbness, and bladder or bowel issues
    • Your physical function level
  • What do I need to do as part of my spinal cancer care?

    You are the most important member of your spinal cancer care team. Your role begins during the screening and diagnostic process.

    We encourage our patients to ask questions as your treatment plan is formed. Ask your doctor questions like:

    • Have you dealt with this sort of spinal or spinal cord tumor before?
    • What outcomes can I expect with this sort of tumor?
    • Will I be able to function like I used to?
    • Will I have trouble walking after my surgery?

    We’ll also talk about your expectations and goals after treatment. This gives us valuable information about the best treatment options to meet your needs.

  • Do I need a second opinion?

    You may want a second opinion to make sure you have all the facts about your condition and all the options you need for your care. Just like with any cancer diagnosis, we encourage you to seek a second opinion about spinal tumors or spinal cord tumors. We can provide referrals and even arrange appointments for a second opinion.

    Many people see us for second or third opinions relating to a spinal or spinal cord tumor diagnosis. About 95 percent of the people we see for second opinions end up becoming our patients for treatment.

    We ask all patients who make appointments with us for second opinions to bring their medical records, including any information about their tumors. If you have imaging records, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, computed tomography (CT) scans, or positron emission tomography (PET) scans, we ask that you bring those records on a CD so we can review them together.

  • How do I prepare for spinal tumor or spinal cord tumor surgery?
    Most people have heard of rehabilitation, or rehab, after an injury or surgery. But not everyone has heard of “prehab,” or preparing before surgery to help ensure the best recovery possible.

    Spinal prehab patients work with our rehabilitation services team. During prehab, we’ll help you increase your activity level and strengthen your core. Prehab can improve your mobility and speed recovery after surgery.

    If you have surgery to remove spinal or spinal cord tumors, you may need occupational therapy, physical therapy, or a combination of the two after your procedure to get back to your normal activities.
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