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Symptom Management:

Symptom Management

Side Effects of Treatment
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Appetite Loss
Bladder Disturbances
Incontinence - Urinary
Dryness of the Mouth
Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances
Flu-like Syndrome
Hair Loss
Menopausal Symptoms
Nausea & Vomiting
Neurological Disturbances
Spinal Cord Compression
Peritoneal Effusions
Shortness of Breath
Skin Conditions
Sleep Problems (Insomnia/Oversleeping)
Sore Mouth
Bone Metastases
Sexuality Issues
Sexual Dysfunction
Spinal Cord Compression

Symptom and Description Spinal cord compression is a rare but serious problem of cancer. It is caused by pressure of a tumor on the spinal cord (the bundle of nerves running inside the backbone to the brain). If treatment is not begun early, then serious injury to the spinal cord can occur. When it occurs, it can affect people with cancers of the lung, breast, prostate, and other cancers that may spread to the bone, as well as multiple myeloma and lymphoma.

Learning Needs You should notify your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any changes in your condition or if any of the following occur:

  • Pain in your back, which may move to the side. The pain may be worse when you lie down, cough, sneeze, or move.
  • Numbness, tingling, ‘‘loss of feeling’’ in toes or fingers.
  • Weakness in your legs or a change in the way you walk.
  • Change in your bowel or urinary habits, such as constipation or being unable to empty your bladder.
  • Loss of control of bowel or bladder (incontinence).

Prevention While it is not possible to prevent spinal cord compression, it is possible to prevent it from getting worse. The most important thing you can do is to tell your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the above symptoms occur. If you cannot reach your doctor or nurse, go to the emergency room of your hospital, tell them that you have cancer, and tell them that you have been taught that this may be an emergency.

Management If you develop these symptoms, your doctor will examine you carefully. Your doctor may then order X-ray films to help evaluate the pain and may also order a bone scan. Your doctor will order a test (MRI scan or CAT scan) if it appears that you have this problem; these tests will show whether there is something pressing against your spinal cord. If the tests show that you have spinal cord compression, your doctor will talk to you about treatment. Early treatment has been shown to prevent serious problems.

Follow-up Your doctor may order rehabilitation and physical therapy to minimize loss of function.

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