Cancer becomes significantly more deadly when it spreads throughout the body. Some types of cancers, like breast and prostate, are more likely to spread to the bones, and the spine is the most common site for those metastases. If doctors have to surgically remove a vertebrae, they can replace it with metal cages or bone grafts, which require an invasive surgery to implant, or they can implant titanium rods, which are less invasive to put in but are expensive.
Now researchers from the Mayo Clinic have created a spongy, expandable material that can take the place of cancerous vertebrae that have been surgically removed. They are presenting their work this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.