Extent of recurrence
You will need to have extensive imaging so your doctors can determine exactly where the tumor has recurred. A CT scan of your whole body should be done, as well as an MRI of your entire spine, to determine whether the tumor has spread to other areas. Your doctors should also compare your new MRI and CT images to those that were taken after your last treatments. This will help them determine how much of what is seen in the new images is recurrent tumor, and what might be treatment sequelae.
The results of this pre-treatment imaging will show your doctors whether you have:
- An isolated recurrence, which is a single tumor at or near the site of the original tumor
- A multifocal recurrence, which is multiple tumors at or near the site of the original tumor
- Metastatic disease, which is one or more tumors in other parts of the body in addition to the recurrent tumor
An isolated recurrence may be curable under certain conditions. In this case, high-dose radiation and surgery should be considered first to give you the best chance for a cure.
Multifocal recurrences are very unlikely to be cured and currently, there is no known cure for metastatic disease. However, multiple treatment options are available to control or temporarily stop tumor growth, as well as to alleviate symptoms. In many cases, these options can control the disease for multiple years while allowing patients to maintain their quality of life.