There are two main types of spinal tumors that can develop. One form, called a primary tumor, develops directly in the spine. These can arise from the nerves, spinal cord cells, the lining of the spinal cord called the meninges, or in the bone itself. The other form, called a metastatic tumor, metastasizes from another area of the body and settles in the spine. They often can affect the bone and ligaments and cause fractures that lead to injury to the spinal cord. Occasionally tumors from other parts of the body can spread in the neural tissue or in the spinal fluid.
What are the symptoms of a spinal tumor?
Symptoms of spinal tumors can develop gradually as the tumor itself grows. Both forms of spinal tumors will have the same symptoms such as:
- Pain where the tumor is growing
- Back and/or neck pain
- Reduced control of the bowels or bladder
- Weakness in the limbs and/or hips
- Deformation of the spine
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling less sensitive to pain or temperature
How are spinal tumors detected?
Spinal tumors are detected in a few different ways, often after a number of the symptoms are present. Informing our doctors of your exact medical history can help in the diagnosis. Methods that can be used to look for spinal tumors are spinal magnetic resonance imaging (an MRI), a CT scan, or a biopsy. Often a combination of approaches is used to accurately diagnose the presence of a spinal tumor. A biopsy will determine exactly what type of cancer is present and will help in determining the best treatment plan for your condition.