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Metastasis to spine?

Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2012

Hello everyone. I stumbled across this site and you all seem to be very helpful and knowledgeable, so I wondered if I might find an answer here.

My Mom was diagnosed May 2012 with stage II grade 3 adenocarcinoma, and underwent a hysterectomy. She is currently receiving adjuvant RT.

No evidence of cancer was found outside the cervix, although they did note that lymphovascular space invasion was probable.

A few days ago, however, she developed paraesthesia (pins and needles) on and off. Sometimes on her face, other times on her arms, hands and down her legs. Her oncologist suggested that if this gets any worse over the next week they will schedule a brain scan. I was dubious when she said that, as I know that the brain is usually the last site of metastasis, so would be quite odd for someone to go from stage II to brain mets in the space of a few months.

Last nite, Mom was woken by excruciating pain radiating from her lower back across her buttocks, she says it feels like the pain is 'in the bone'. I have been researching all this and it seems to fit with two conditions: a trapped nerve or a tumour on the lower spine, compressing the nerve (I.e. exactly the same thing, with one being caused by a tumour!). It doesn't fit with brain mets, thankfully.

I was wondering if anyone has any experience of this? She had not had chemo, so neuropathy is unlikely. Its my understanding that spinal mets are rare in uterine cancer, especially for someone diagnosed as stage II just recently, but it also seems like a huge coincidence if it is simply a trapped nerve....

She will mention this on Monday when she goes in for her RT, but was wondering if anyone has any ideas before then.
Thanks very much, and after reading many of your posts you will all be in my thoughts and prayers.

norma2's picture
Posts: 486
Joined: Aug 2009

I had a very painful experience a week ago that I was sure was the cancer in my back. Since I just had a check up and was given the all clear, I decided to wait and see. After a few days of tingling in my right arm and pain in my middle back, the pain went away. I feel fine now. I think I was told that symptoms should last a week or two before I should be concerned. Hope this helps some. Praying for you and your Mom.

daisy366's picture
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

Could this be related to the radiation she is currently getting? I am particularly scared of radiation. While I did not get it for my initial treatment, I did receive it for my first recurrence which was in the neck. The effects of radiation persist after treatment and sometimes long after. It's worth asking this question, I think.

I hope your mom gets relief and some answers. Not knowing is very hard.

Blessings and hugs, Mary Ann

Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2012

Hopefully it is nothing.

When she spoke to the Oncologist on Thursday (just about the pins and needles, before the pain) she was told categorically that it is not a side effect of RT, and I can find no link online as well. I was hoping that they were caused by hormones as she is still having hot flushes post hysterectomy, but it was the pain that had me most worried. Perhaps it is linked to the RT in that by lying still for so long she has trapped a nerve? She may get some answers this week.

It's so easy to make mountains out of molehills with cancer isn't it! The Internet can be helpful but also drive you insane... You're right though, until she has had this problem for at least a week I should try not to worry so much :)

debrajo's picture
Posts: 1095
Joined: Sep 2011

The internet and "Dr. Google" will drive you crazy!Debrajo

Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2012

i believe my mum has a more rare, aggressive type of cancer.. she went from stage 1 to 3 to 4 within weeks. However, the first real 'pain' she had from 'cancer' was from mets in the spine. She was doing chemo so they attributed to muscle pain at first, after a CT scan it showed mets throughout her spine, which is very painful. I sincerely hope this is not the case for your mom, it's terrible to see them in even more pain.

Our doctors were also surprised as this type of cancer doesn't 'typically' go to the bone. I would stay vigilant and insist on tests, there was no reason for my mom to suffer for the weeks she did.

best of luck to you and your family.

jazzy1's picture
Posts: 1385
Joined: Mar 2010

Sorry your mom is experiencing this increase in pain. I have a more aggressive type of uterine called MMMT. So I'm always so suspicious of any hurt and tingling. I dealt with lower back pain starting 3 months after my chemo and radiation. Doc confirmed NO IT'S NOT CANCER. Basically told me I'm getting old and most likely arthritis.

I dealt with this minor pain on/off for a few years until 3 months ago it go really bad. Could hard put my foot down without pain and had tingling down my left leg. Spoke with doc as well confirmed NO CANCER, but offered option to have an MRI done. This MRI confirmed I have bulging disk in lower part of back, plus pinching on my sciatica nerve, causing p ain down the leg.

I've been seeing a chiropractor for various procedures and after 1 month pain is almost entirely gone. What I'd suggest, ruling out it's not cancer, which is what I think you'r doing, then ask your oncologist what type doc he'd suggest to help with the pain. She might simply have what I have, which is very treatable.

No one has ever said yes this could be caused by radiation which I had, but I'll bet a big chunk of money this is part of my back issues. Radiation simply dries up every ligament, joint and tendon, which causes anything to go wrong. Do your own research and you'll find the proper direction, as might take time. While waiting, might suggest a pain management doc to help alleviate some of mom's pain.

Hang in there and know we're all here for you!!

Posts: 5
Joined: Sep 2012

I went 1 year NED after 1a uterine MMMMT diagnosis - (had chemo and radiation)Then almost one year later I had back pain and leg pain and did find a large mass in my back that had invaded my spine - so it does sometimes met that way. I hope all works out for your mom.

Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2012

Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

As the symptoms are on and off, they are attributing it to the radiotherapy. She has nine more sessions of this, then two brachytherapy and will be due for her three month check up shortly after that. If the symptoms are still there then I think they'll investigate further.

Hopefully it'll stop with the end of the radiotherapy! I don't know exactly how they think the radiotherapy is causing it but maybe it's to do with the metal bed thing she has to lie on?

Wishing you all the very best :)

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2012

Just thought I'd add that I also had back pain, leg pain and some tingling etc. Pain started in right hip while I was still having radiation treatments which followed hysterectomy. Original dx was uterine carcinoma mixed tumour (serous, endometrial and mucinous)Stage 3 C (lymph vascular space invasion - 2 lymph nodes). I declined chemotherapy and requested not many lymphy nodes so had 5 removed.

Pain increased and I started reporting it straight away. It spread from right hip to include groin and right thigh (front and outside) and sometimes inner. Continued to spread to include lower spine and right side which eventually became slightly wasted and shortened so that I was bent over slightly to the right. By about a year later scoliosis developed.

When I initially complained of pain in right hip I too was told it was because of metal table used for radiation treatments. Then because I was 50 (now 51) was told it was arthritis in my lower back because of my age and also that I had pain because I had just returned to horse riding for the first time since the op (2 x 30 minute sessions doing very little). Had (poor quality at local hospital) MRI done in August last year. It showed a bulging disc so my back pain was blamed on that by the oncology team but not by osteopathic or neurosurgeon who could find no reason for the pain. Physiotherapists I was consulting became reluctant to treat me as they were concerned that the pain was cancer (continuous pain, worse at night preventing sleep).

Anyway, fast forward to May 22 this year I was given yet another all clear by the oncology team following my latest CT scan in spite of my complaining of by now severe back pain and sudden weight loss. Early August, at my wits end I consulted a private spine health team who suggested I had an MRI. I had good quality one this time which picked up a metastasis. I reported the results to my oncology team who immediately admitted me to hospital where I was rescanned. Result: retroperitoneal lymph nodes enlarged. Cause of pain 2.3 x 3.6 cm tumour in right hand side para-aortal node which had embedded in right psoas muscle lifting it and which had spread across to L3 causing destruction of the vertebra. I was given 10 more sessions of extensive beam radiotherapy to my back which was completed just over 3 weeks ago. I go for my first check-up this coming Tuesday.

I think this was probably going on before or least at the time of my original dx but got missed. Also, the dx of serous carcinoma which was picked up on MRI prior to hysterectomy was not taken seriously so op was for endometrial without maximum debulking.

I sincerely hope that this is rare but thought it worth a mention just to stay alert to pain as a possibility of metastasis even when given the all clear and to keep pushing for an accurate diagnosis. I wish your mum (and everyone else here) the best and fingers crossed that her pain is not caused by anything serious and that it can be relieved.

ConnieSW's picture
Posts: 1193
Joined: Jun 2012

Lady Faustian, thankyou for sharing your experience. Since my nature is to be nonconfrontational on my own behalf, I need frequent reinforcement of the need to advocate for myself. As a retired nurse I fear becoming a hypochondriac. We all must remember that we know our bodies best because we have lived in them so long. When my Alzheimer's patients fell, my first question was, "Did you break any bones?" No matter how demented, they were always right. We are the experts on our body norms.

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