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Survival after surgery for spinal metastases: a population-based study

Bhanot K, Widdifield J, Huang A, Paterson JM, Shultz DB, Finkelstein J. Can J Surg. 2022; 65(4):E512-8. Epub 2022 Aug 2. DOI:

Background — There are limited published data on population estimates of survival after spinal surgery for metastatic disease. We performed a population-based study to evaluate survival and complications among patients with cancer who underwent surgery for spinal metastases in Ontario, Canada, between 2006 and 2016.

Methods — We used health administrative databases to identify all patients who underwent surgery for spinal metastases in Ontario between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2016. We assessed overall survival, mortality rates according to primary cancer lesion and complications after surgery. We contrast the results to those for a comparable cohort from 1991 to 1998.

Results — A total of 2646 patients (1194 women [45.1%]; mean age 62.5 yr [standard deviation 12.2 yr]) were identified. The median survival time was 236 (interquartile range 84–740) days. Mortality was highest for patients with melanoma, upper gastrointestinal cancer and lung cancer, with 50% dying within 90 days of surgery. The longest median survival times were observed for primary cancers of the thyroid (906 d) and breast (644 d), and myeloma (830 d). Overall 90-day and 1-year mortality rates were 29% and 59%, respectively.

Conclusion — We identified differential survivorship based on primary tumour type and a shift in the distribution of operations performed for specific primary cancers over the past 2 decades in Ontario. Overall reductions in mortality associated with this shift in treatment may reflect the use of adjuvant therapies and more personalized treatment approaches.

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