What is a Spine Tumours?
Spinal tumors can be defined as abnormal growths that occur in the spinal canal or within the bones of the spine. Spine tumors can be either secondary (i.e., spread from elsewhere) or primary (i.e., tumor occurring in the spine or spinal cord/nerves itself). They can sometimes be picked up incidentally or present with a wide variety of symptoms, including:
- Severe Pain in the neck or back
- Weakness or numbness of the arms or legs
- Pain that does not goes away with rest
- Night pain
- Back pain along with other symptoms, such as loss of appetite, unplanned weight loss
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 tumor metastases (spread of the tumor). As there are many considerations for treatment of the spine, it is imperative to seek a medical consult for those with spine tumors.
Figure: Tumour deposit in the spine causing a fracture (pathological fracture) and compression of the spinal cord
Before receiving treatment, an accurate diagnosis is needed to determine the severity of your case. Diagnostic tests can include MRI or CT scans, blood tests, biopsies, and even PET scans. These can help the doctor accurately determine the problem region, and the intensity of the cancer tumors.
Upon consultation and diagnosis, the appropriate treatment will be suggested to you, depending on your case. There are various kinds of surgical procedures that can be done depending on the severity of the tumors, ranging from minimally invasive methods to more extensive ones. Some of these can include:
- Vertebroplasty (spinal injections)
- Surgery to correct spinal fractures caused by tumors
- Laminectomy (surgery to decompress the nerve that is compressed by the tumor)
- Corpectomy (removal of parts of or the whole spinal tumor)
Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormonal therapy may also be used as an addition to the surgical procedures, so as to aid in a speedy recovery and faster reversal of the tumors.