Brain Spine Hosptials

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SPINAL TUMOUR

CAUSES

Any type of tumor may occur in the spine, including:

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Myeloma

A small number of spinal tumors occur in the nerves of the spinal cord itself. Most often these are ependymomas and other gliomas.

Tumors that start in spinal tissue are called primary spinal tumors. Tumors that spread to the spine from some other place (metastasis) are called secondary spinal tumors. Tumors may spread to the spine from the breast, prostate, lung, and other areas.

The cause of primary spinal tumors is unknown. Some primary spinal tumors occur with genetic defects.

Spinal tumors can occur:

  • Inside the spinal cord (intramedullary)
  • In the membranes (meninges) covering the spinal cord (extramedullary - intradural)
  • Between the meninges and bones of the spine (extradural)

Or, tumors may extend from other locations. Most spinal tumors are extradural.

As it grows, the tumor can affect the:

  • Blood vessels
  • Bones of the spine
  • Meninges
  • Nerve roots
  • Spinal cord cells

The tumor may press on the spinal cord or nerve roots, causing damage. With time, the damage may become permanent.

Symptoms

The symptoms depend on the location, type of tumor, and your general health. Tumors that have spread to the spine from another site (metastatic tumors) often progress quickly. Primary tumors often progress slowly over weeks to years.

The symptoms depend on the location, type of tumor, and your general health. Tumors that have spread to the spine from another site (metastatic tumors) often progress quickly. Primary tumors often progress slowly over weeks to years.

Symptoms may include:

  • Especially in the legs (may be in the knee or ankle, with or without shooting pain down the leg)
  • Cold sensation of the legs, cool fingers or hands, or coolness of other areas

Abnormal sensations or loss of sensation:

  • Gets worse over time
  • In any area -- middle or low back are most common
  • Is usually severe and not relieved by pain medication
  • Is worse when lying down
  • Is worse with strain, cough, sneeze
  • May extend to the hip, leg, or feet (or arms), or all extremities

Back pain

  • Especially in the legs (may be in the knee or ankle, with or without shooting pain down the leg)
  • Cold sensation of the legs, cool fingers or hands, or coolness of other areas

Exams and Tests

A neurological examination may help pinpoint the location of the tumor. The health care provider may also find the following during an exam:

  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Loss of pain and temperature sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tenderness in the spine

These tests may confirm spinal tumor:

  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination
  • Cytology (cell studies) of CSF
  • Myelogram
  • Spinal CT
  • Spine MRI
  • Spine x-ray

The goal of treatment is to reduce or prevent nerve damage from pressure on (compression of) the spinal cord.

Treatment should be given quickly. The more quickly symptoms develop, the sooner treatment is needed to prevent permanent injury. Any new or unexplained back pain in a patient with cancer should be thoroughly investigated.

Treatments include:

  • Corticosteroids (dexamethasone) may be given to reduce inflammation and swelling around the spinal cord.
  • Surgery may be needed to relieve compression on the spinal cord. Some tumors can be completely removed. In other cases, part of the tumor may be removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Radiation therapy may be used with, or instead of, surgery.
  • Chemotherapy has not been proven effective against most spinal tumors, but it may be recommended in some cases.
  • Chemotherapy has not been proven effective against most spinal tumors, but it may be recommended in some cases.
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