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Spinal Tumors

What are spinal tumors?

A spinal tumor is an abnormal mass that forms within the spinal canal or the bones of your spine. These growths can be a serious health concern and require expert care.

Spinal cord tumors are categorized based on their location in relation to the spinal cord's membranes:

  • Intramedullary tumors: originate from cells within the spinal cord. Notable types include gliomas, astrocytomas, and ependymomas.
  • Extramedullary tumors: occur in the membranes around the spinal cord or nerve roots extending from it. While they do not start inside the spinal cord, they can impinge on its functionality through compression. Common extramedullary tumors are meningiomas, neurofibromas, schwannomas, and nerve sheath tumors.

Any spinal growth bears the risk of debilitating symptoms, from pain and neurological issues to paralysis. The presence of a spinal tumor is a matter that can potentially be life-threatening and may result in lasting disability.


What are the symptoms of spinal tumors?

Spinal cord tumors manifest a variety of symptoms which escalate as the tumors enlarge. These growths can impinge on your spinal cord or the related nerve roots, circulatory structures, or vertebral bones. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent pain at the location of the tumor
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stiff neck or back
  • Diminished sensitivity to temperature and pain.
  • Difficulty walking
  • Persistent back pain that may extend to other regions of your body.
  • Compromised control over bowel or bladder functions.
  • Noticeable reduction in sensation or muscular strength, particularly affecting the upper and lower limbs.

At NeuroSpine Plus, we emphasize the importance of professional evaluation and management of these symptoms to assist in mitigating their impact on your quality of life.

What are the causes of spinal tumors?

The cause of spinal tumors is not fully understood. Research suggests that genetic anomalies may play a role, whether inherited or acquired during one's lifetime. While there is still uncertainty, certain hereditary syndromes like neurofibromatosis 2 and von Hippel-Lindau disease have been definitively linked to spinal cord tumors. At NeuroSpine Plus, we are dedicated to advancing research and improving treatment to provide the best care for our patients.

What are treatments for spinal tumors?

NeuroSpine Plus offers comprehensive treatment options for spinal tumors:

  • Monitoring Strategy

    In some cases, when tumors show no signs of progression or impact on nearby tissues, we may choose to monitor them closely using regular CT or MRI scans.

  • Surgery

    Surgery is preferred for tumors that can be safely removed while preserving the spinal cord and nerves.

  • Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy

    For tumors that cannot be fully removed or are deemed high-risk for surgery, we employ radiation therapy. Chemotherapy may also be considered, either alone or in combination with radiation therapy, to hinder cancer cell growth.

  • Comprehensive Medication Management

    Corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation caused by surgery, radiation therapy, or the tumor itself. We aim for short-term use to minimize side effects.

Our dedicated team at NeuroSpine Plus provides personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient's journey to recovery.

Spinal tumors FAQ

Spinal tumors can arise in any individual, although certain groups are found to be at higher risk. Patients with a history of cancer, particularly those dealing with lung, breast, and prostate, may experience metastatic spinal tumors. These secondary growths occur when cancer cells spread from their original location to the spine.

While less common, primary spinal tumors predominantly appear in two age groups: adults aged 65 to 74 and children from 10 to 16 years old.

At NeuroSpine Plus, our specialists often field questions regarding the prevalence of spinal tumors. The vast majority of these tumors within the spinal region are secondary, also known as metastatic. In fact, metastatic spinal tumors comprise about 97% of occurrences. Data indicates that each year, an estimated 10,000 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with metastatic tumors affecting the spinal cord. Research suggests that cancer spreads to the spinal region in 30% to 70% of individuals with systemic cancer.

Primary spinal tumors that originate in the spine itself are relatively rare. Noncancerous or benign primary spinal tumors constitute only half a percent of total tumor diagnoses annually.

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