Your spinal cord is the tube that runs from the base of your brain to the bottom of your spine. It houses the nerves that send messages back and forth between your brain and body.
Tumors can grow along the spinal cord, just as they can in other parts of your body, such as the lungs or liver. A tumor forms in the spinal cord when cells grow too rapidly. They can be harmful to you because they can push on and damage the spinal cord.
You might hear your doctor speak about “grades” of tumors. The lower the grade, the slower it grows. Grade 1 and 2 tumors are slower-growing than grades 3 and 4.
If you hear your doctor or nurse talk about a “malignant” tumor, that means its cancer. A “benign” tumor isn’t. The kind of treatment you get depends on that key difference, along with many other things.
These grow in star-shaped cells called astrocytes in the brain and spinal cord. They belong to a group of tumors called gliomas. All gliomas grow from “glial cells,” which support and protect your nerve fibers. Some astrocytomas grow very slowly. Others grow faster.
When the tumor presses on the nerves of the spine, it can reason symptoms such as weakness in the arms or legs, trouble walking, or problems controlling when you go to the bathroom.
These are tumors that may have fluid-filled growths inside them. They’re also a type of glioma. They grow down the middle of the spinal cord. Ependymomas themselves come in a few different types. Some grow in the brain. Others are in the spinal cord. Myxopapillary ependymoma is a rare type that grows in the lower part of the spinal cord.
Which symptoms you have depended on the size of the tumor and where it is located. Symptoms can contain nausea, vomiting, headache, numbness, and trouble controlling when you go to the bathroom.
This rare kind of tumor starts in the lining of blood vessels in your brain and spinal cord. It’s generally not cancerous, but it can reason symptoms such as weakness in your legs and balance problems if it grows and presses on your spinal cord.
About 25% of spinal cord tumors are this type. They’re more common in women than men, and they generally start in middle age or later.
They grow in the meninges, the three membranes that cover and protect your brain and spinal cord. Usually, they’re not cancerous, but the ones that are can spread.