- 11 July 2018
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Spinal Tumours: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments
The word ‘a tumour’ holds the potential to scare anybody and make them run in the opposite direction. Tumour in any part of the body is scary but particularly in the central nervous system can give you a panic attack. What we are going to talk about in this blog is tumors in the spine. Read on to know more about them.
What is spinal tumor?
A spinal tumor is a growth of mass that develops within your spinal canal or within the bones of your spine. These cells that form the tumor, grow and multiply uncontrollably, and seem to go unchecked by the mechanisms that control normal cell growth.
Not all spinal tumors are cancerous and spinal tumors can be benign. They may grow but not spread to anywhere else. They only cause a problem by putting pressure on nearby nerves or the bones of the spine.
Primary tumors are the ones that originate in the spine or spinal cord, and metastatic or secondary tumors result from cancer that has spread from another site to the spine.
There are different kinds of spinal tumors that differ by the region of the spine in which they have grown. These basic areas are cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacrum. They are also classified into three different kinds, depending on where they occur relative to the protective membranes of the spinal cord.
What are the types of tumors?
These are the main types of intradural tumors:
- Intramedullary tumors: They begin in the cells within the spinal cord itself, most frequently grown in the cervical (neck) region. They are often benign, but very difficult to remove.
- Extramedullary tumors: They grow in either the membrane surrounding the spinal cord or the nerve roots that reach out from the spinal cord and not within the spinal cord itself, but these tumors affect the spinal cord function by causing spinal cord compression and other problems related to it.
- Metastatic tumors: These tumors spread to the vertebrae- the supporting network around the spinal cord or the spinal cord itself, from other affected areas.
There are several different types of tumor that can start in the spinal cord. The most common are:
- Nerve-sheath tumors, such as schwannomas.
What are the signs and symptoms of having a spinal tumor?
Symptoms depend on the position of a tumor in the spinal cord, and they often come to prominence by pressing the spinal nerves. This can cause,
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Weakness in the arms or legs.
- Difficulty walking
- Tumors in the lower part of the spinal cord may cause loss of bladder and bowel control (incontinence).
Diagnosis of spinal tumor
MRI of the spine with contrast is the investigation of choice for a patient suspected with a spinal tumor.
What are the causes of a spinal tumor?
There is no known cause of spinal tumors, but research is being done to find out more about it. In a negligible number of cases, spinal cord tumors may be linked with genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis and von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, people affected by these have a higher risk of developing some types of spinal cord tumor. Spinal cord tumors are very rare and they can start in the nerves of the spinal cord or in the meninges that cover and protect the spinal cord.
What are the treatments for spinal tumors?
Your treatment will depend on your-
- General health
- The position of the tumor
- Size of a tumor
- Type of a tumor.
We at sunshine, walk you through the aims of your treatment and what it involves. We also explain the risks and side effects involved in the course of treatment. Generally, treatments for a spinal tumor may include:
- Surgery: Surgery aims at removing the tumor without damaging the spine or spinal cord. A tumor will either be removed completely or a part of it is removed by a procedure called debulking surgery.
- Radiotherapy: High-energy rays are used to destroy the cancer cells. You may undergo radiotherapy after surgery to treat any remaining tumor cells and minimize chances of recurrence. Radiotherapy is used as the main treatment when surgery isn’t possible.
- Steroids: Steroid drugs are prescribed to reduce the swelling around spinal cord tumors. They reduce the symptoms caused by increased pressure. They may be given before or after surgery, and during or after radiotherapy.
- Chemotherapy: The use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells is called chemotherapy.
We at Sunshine extend our best services to our patients and help them recover in a manner as comfortable as possible. Intra-operative monitoring while resecting intramedullary tumors are known to improve the surgical outcome, allowing for ‘safe resection’ of a tumor, meaning thereby allowing maximal resection of the tumor without adding fresh neurological deficits. The same is being applied at the sunshine hospital for tumor resection if required.
About the doctor: Dr. Naveen – Neurosurgeon
Dr Naveen is an expert in treating with brain and spinal tumor cases. He is one of the Best Neurosurgeons in Hyderabad and is sought after for some of the most delicate and complicated brain surgeries.
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma, and Neurology.