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ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Bone cancer. Coloured sagittal (side) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan through the back of a patient with secondary bone cancer (black) in the third lumbar spinal vertebrae (L3, orange). The front of the body is at left. The spinal blocks of bone (vertebrae) enclose the spinal cord (white). The cancer has spread (metastasized) from a site of primary cancer in the prostate gland. Spread of cancer to the spine is common. Prognosis is very poor, with treatment aimed at preserving function and quality of life. Radiotherapy and steroid drug therapies are most commonly used. MRI scanning uses powerful magnetic fields and pulses of radio waves to produce slice images of the body.
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