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Cancer Engineering

Metastatic tumors form in the spine in 40-70% of cancer patients, causing tremendous suffering and negatively affecting patient quality of life. Treating these cancers can be difficult since common interventions such as surgery and radiation therapy present significant risk to surounding arteries (aorta), nerves (spinal cord), and structural tissues. Not only do physicians have to treat the cancer itself, but oftentimes they have to address the resulting structural instability created in the spine when cancers are removed or minimized.

At the Spine Research Institute, we work closely with our colleagues at the Comprehensive Cancer Center (The James) to apply engineering principles to better understand the effects that cancer and subsequent treatments have on the spine. Our personalized modeling capabilities, in particular, can be used to document the structural impact of metastatic tumors and subsequent treatments through the quantification of tissue loading.