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Update on STAR Ablation - RFA for spinal mets

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

Unless you are stage IV, or another stage with recurrence/progression to the spine, you wouldn't ever have to deal with this. But I thought you all might find this interesting, and it is something to keep in the back of your mind should you need it some day. I know a lot of people complain a lot about no cure for cancer yet, and how little progress is being made. But in my own experience, I have seen much progress being made for treatments, from robotic (DaVinci) surgeries, to new RFA options, to new targeted radiation options, cyberknife and more. The procedure I had done has just gone national the end of last summer. I'm glad to see advances in treatments that improve our lives, while we continue to work for a cure.

When our family went to my parents' to celebrate with extended family, I stayed when they went home, to have this done. One of my daughters came back and joined me - she and my parents took me in to get this done. It seems crazy to leave MN to go to IA for this, but I was not impressed with the one doctor that does this in MN. There is only one that does it in IA, and he did impress me.

I'm even more impressed after having the procedure. I am off all pain meds. My tumor at T6 has been ablated with RFA, and the vertebrae reinforced with cement glue so it won't collapse (after removing the 2cm tumor from the bone). I had a call back from the hospital the next day, and expected that would be the end of follow-up. I should have known better. This doctor called me prior to the procedure and spoke with me for a half hour. He came to talk with me before the procedure at the hospital and spoke to my family afterwards (it took twice as long as expected - turned out to be more complicated in my case once he got in there), and then came to speak with me a few hours later in recovery. Then last week after I was back home, he called to ask how everything is working out, and asked if I felt he did a satisfactory job for me. WOW! I can't recommended him or the staff at Methodist/Stoddard enough. So often we think we need big names - big cancer centers - to get good treatment. I've been to the U of MN Fairview and they could learn a few things from Stoddard and Methodist...

One of my spinal tumors (at T6) has had maximum lifetime radiation (due to being in the field of radiation for lymph node radiation over a year ago, and getting special radiation to just 1/2 of the vertebrae last summer). This procedure can be done no matter how much radiation was done prior. It can also be done instead of radiation - much less harmful to the body. There is soreness for up to about a week after the procedure. I had different, new pain, but the old pain was gone. It hurt when I used the muscles that run through my back through my shoulders - like when going from lying down or sitting to standing. But after a week that pain was gone. The probe does go through muscle and bone, so it isn't pain free, but considering how serious a procedure this is, that is very little pain for the end gain! I do still have some pain - it isn't completely gone. But it is so little compared to what I was living with.

The doctor that did my procedure and a little about it:
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120620/LIFE/306200026/STAR-system-speeds-relief-patients-spinal-tumors

A YouTube video that explains it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5wGB5JGN9E

jen2012
Posts: 1207
Joined: Aug 2012

Thanks for sharing kathryn...interesting and good to hear you did well with it. Glad to hear your pain has been minimized!

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4298
Joined: Jun 2009

I'm glad that things have turned around for you...you've been through alot in your fight.  Great research to find your new surgeon; that is some great follow-up care to be sure.

Keep getting better:)

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