Some Possible Associated Symptoms with Spine Tumours include(s):
Spine tumours can be either secondary (ie spread from elsewhere) or primary (ie tumour occurring in the spine or spinal cord/nerves itself). They can sometimes be picked up incidentally or present with a wide variety of symptoms. It is important to always maintain a high degree of suspicion in patients with a previous history of cancer as the spine is a common site for tumour metastases (spread of the tumour). As there are many considerations for treatment of the spine, it would be prudent to seek a medical consult for those with spine tumours.
Figure: Tumour deposit in the spine causing a fracture (pathological fracture) and compression of the spinal cord
Before embarking on treament of the spine, an accurate diagnosis is first required. This is often done
with an MRI and/or Computerized Tomography (CT) scan of the spine. Other tests may include blood tests or
PET scans. A biopsy is sometimes done before deciding on the type of treatment for spine tumours. A
multidisciplinary team involving surgeons, medical and/or radiation oncologists if often required in the
treatment of spine tumours.
There are multiple options for surgical treatment of the spine ranging from minimally-invasive techniques to a more extensive approach. Where spine tumours present with the main symptom of pain, a simple cement injection (vertebroplasty) may sometimes be done. Vertebroplasty can be done as a day surgery procedure. Tumours may sometimes cause spine fractures which are unstable. Vertebroplasty alone may not be suitable in these cases. Here, surgical treatment of the spine fractures involve putting in screws to provide support and add stability to the spinal column to prevent it from collapsing. When the spine tumour compresses on the nerve(s) and/or spinal cord, surgical treatment of the spine involves creating space for the nerves through decompression (laminectomy). This involves removing part of the tumour and the bones to decompress (free up) the nerves. Screws are often required after a wide decompression laminectomy to stabilise the spine. In some cases, surgical treatment for spine tumours may also involve removing part or all of tumour from the vertebral body of the spine (corpectomy).
Sacral tumours can behave like spine tumours and thus treatment of sacral tumours are similar. Nerves in the sacrum control the bladder and bowel. Surgical treatment for sacral tumours may involve sacral laminectomy, where the spinal nerves are decompressed (freed) or complete surgical excision (removing all the tumour). Treatment for sacral tumours can be done without inserting any implants if enough sacrum can be preserved. If most of the sacrum is removed, surgical treatment for sacral tumours may involve excision and stabilisation using screws. Chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and/or radiotherapy are often adjuncts to surgical treatment of the spine.
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