Object: Metastases of multiple myeloma often occur in the cervical spine. These metastases may cause pain and associated spinal instability. The authors report the results of radiotherapy and surgical treatment for myeloma involving the cervical spine. The results of radiation therapy for multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine that cause clinical or radiographically documented instability have not been reported previously.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients with multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine was undertaken. Between 1993 and 2005, 35 patients were treated with external-beam radiation and/or surgical stabilization at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Nineteen of 20 patients with sufficient follow-up data experienced resolution of their pain when treated with radiation without surgical intervention. Twenty-three patients had evidence of spinal instability on radiographic images; 15 of these were treated with radiation alone. Of these, 10 had sufficient follow-up data, and none showed any clinical progression of instability. Radiographic follow-up images demonstrated an arrest of further progression of instability and, in some cases, healing of pathological fractures by means of radiation alone.
Conclusions: The results of this series suggest that, in selected cases, external-beam radiation for multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine is an effective palliative treatment, even in cases involving clinical or radiographically documented instability.