Metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) is defined in this pathway as spinal cord or cauda equina compression by direct pressure and/or induction of vertebral collapse or instability by metastatic spread or direct extension of malignancy that threatens or causes neurological disability.
It is important to recognise the impact of an MSCC diagnosis on people with MSCC and their families and carers, and understand their needs and the support required throughout their care.
Some people with MSCC experience delays in their treatment and care and may, as a result, develop avoidable disability and die prematurely.
This pathway will help to ensure that facilities are available for early diagnosis and that treatment is coordinated, follows best practice and whenever possible prevents paralysis from adversely affecting the quality of life of people living with cancer.
In 2011, the Department of Health published a Manual for cancer services: acute oncology – including metastatic spinal cord compression measures.
This guideline covers detecting and managing metastatic spinal cord compression in adults with cancer that has spread to the spine. It aims to improve quality of life by promoting early detection and management, and reducing spinal cord damage and disability.