What is a Spinal Tumor?

A spinal tumor is a growth that develops in or near the spinal cord or within the bones and discs of the spine. Spinal tumors may be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Spine tumors, both benign and malignant can cause significant disability when they occur in the spine. This is because spinal tumors may grow, leading to compression on the spinal cord or nerves, potentially causing pain, neurologic problems, and in some cases paralysis. Symptoms vary depending on the location and type of tumor.

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What are the types of Spinal Tumors?

  • Spinal tumors can be classified on the basis of the region of the spine in which they occur. These can be:
    • Cervical
    • Thoracic
    • Lumbar
    • Sacral
  • They can also be classified on the basis of their location in the spine.
    • Extradural: They lie between the duramater of spine and bone.
    • Intradural:
      • Extramedullary
      • Intramedullary

What are the risk factors for Spinal Tumor?

The cause of most primary spinal tumors is unknown. Some of them may be attributed to exposure to cancer-causing agents. Spinal cord lymphomas, which are cancers that affect lymphocytes (a type of immune cell), are more common in people with compromised immune systems. There appears to be a higher incidence of spinal tumors in particular families, so there is most likely a genetic component.

In a small number of cases, primary tumors may result from the presence of these two genetic diseases:

  1. Neurofibromatosis 2
  2. Von Hippel-Lindau disease

What are the symptoms of Spinal Tumor?

  • Weakness of limbs, often with paraplegia (paralysis)
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Disturbances in urination and defecation
  • Changes in tendon reflexes
  • Pain in the back
  • Spinal cord or Cauda Equina compression, which is a surgical emergency

What is Spinal Tumor diagnosed?

  • X ray
  • Myelography: Myelographyis an imaging examination that involves the introduction of a spinal needle into the spinal canal and the injection of contrast material in the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots (the subarachnoid space) using a real-time form of x-ray called fluoroscopy.
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination
  • CT Scan
  • MRI Scan

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How is Spinal Tumor treated?

  • Surgery: Decompression of spinal cord and removal of tumor is done.
  • Additive therapy: Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy
  • A drug Methotrexate can also be given.

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