Home » Condition » Spinal Tumours
A spinal tumour occurs as a result of uncontrollable growth and multiplication of cells forming an abnormal mass of tissue within the spinal cord. They are of two types: primary and secondary. Primary tumours may begin within the elements of spine including the spinal column, spinal discs, spinal nerves, etc. Secondary spinal tumours are tumours which have developed in other parts of the body and spread to the spinal cord. They are classified into different types based on their location and specific region within the spine.
The three different types of spinal tumours based on their specific region within the spine include:
Although the causes of majority of the spinal tumours are unclear, some associated factors include:
A few common cancers through which secondary spinal tumours occur are breast cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer.
The symptoms of spinal tumours may vary according to the type of tumour and the spinal region. However, some general symptoms of spinal tumours include:
Spinal tumours are diagnosed based on thorough medical history, physical examination and diagnostic imaging scans focusing on pain and neurological aspects.
Physical examinations are carried out to evaluate pain intensity, location, sensations, reflexes and triggering factors.
Diagnostic imaging scans: Plain radiographic evaluation of suspected region of spinal tumours is considered along with a CT scan and MRI. MRI is considered as an exceptional diagnostic tool for spinal tumours. Most importantly, it helps in examining the spinal canal and the nerve involvement in the tumour.
Treatment of spinal tumours is decided based on the type, stage and severity of the tumour. These include two methods: Non-surgical and Surgical.
Non-surgical management: It includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy and observation.
Radiotherapy uses highly targeted radiation beams to destroy tumour cells and reduce the size of the tumour.
Chemotherapy is a procedure which uses drugs to kill tumour cells. These drugs help to control the rapid growth and multiplication of cancer cells.
Observation through regular monitoring with MRIs can be done in mild, asymptomatic, non-progressing tumours.
Some tumours may show a good response to these therapies, however there may be some secondary, metastatic tumours which are resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. These patients would be considered for surgical treatment approaches.
Surgical management: The surgical goals include removal of the tumour for reduction of pain, preservation of nerve function and spine stabilization. The type of surgery and approach is decided based on age, location of the tumour, type of tumour (benign or malignant) progression and associated conditions.