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 (thanks to www.phoenix5.org for the images), 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 radioactive 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 on top o that might 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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