Spinal Surgery

My husband Dan has Stage IV. He is being treated in NY at Memorial Sloan Kettering and has been doing relatively well on the chemo, with a good quality of life. Back in March he needed radiation (IMRT) for a tumor on his spine that was getting too close to his spinal column. The radiation left him with Esophogitis. At the time, the radiologist told him he thought he could get the entire tumor and it wouldn't come back, but it did. Not it is pressing on his spinal column and has even caused a fracture of one of his vertabrae. We saw the NeuroSurgeon at Sloan a couple of days ago and they said he needs 'decompression' back surgery to move the tumor away from the spinal column and will then need more radiation. The surgery sounds very scary..the remove part of the bone, put in screws, etc. Has anyone had this type of surgery? Is it absolutely necessary? Also, since he already has esophogitis from the previous radation, he can't afford for his esophagus to be further compromised. We have been reading about Proton Beam radiation, which sounds like it causes much less damage to surrounding tissue. Sloan Kettering does not have one of these machines, but we have a meeting with the radiologisit, Dr Yamata, on Monday to discuss helping us to go someplace else for this radiation.
Any thoughts/advice would be appreciatied.
Sue from NY