Breast cancer is the most common malignancy and the second leading cause of death in Western women. Breast cancer most commonly metastasizes to the bone and has a particular affinity with the spine, accounting for 2/3 of osseous metastases discovered. With significant improvements in cancer therapies, the number of patients at risk for symptomatic spinal metastases is likely to increase. Patients may suffer from intractable pain and neurological dysfunction, negatively influencing their quality of life. Timely diagnosis of patients is crucial and has been aided by several breakthrough advances in imaging techniques which aid in detection, staging, and follow-up of bone metastases. Breast metastases are usually responsive to hormonal therapy and pharmacologic interventions, but skeletal metastases often require surgical intervention. The treatments are palliative but goals include the preserving or restoring neurologic function, ensuring spinal stability, and relieving pain. Advances in surgical techniques and instrumentation have allowed more effective decompression and stabilization of the spine, and with the support of recent evidence the trend has shifted towards using more advanced surgical options in appropriately selected patients. In this review, the clinical presentation, diagnosis, patient selection, and surgical management of breast cancer metastatic to the spine are discussed.
- Breast cancer
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