Do benign spinal tumors cause pain?
Spinal tumors are rare. And if you have one of these strange masses along the spine, the diagnosis could take several weeks. Be prepared for your physician to rule out many other situations first.
A spinal tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue within or surrounding the spinal cord and/or spinal column. These cells grow and multiply uncontrollably, seemingly unchecked by the mechanisms that control normal cells. Spinal tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Primary tumors originate in the spine or spinal cord, and metastatic or secondary tumors result from cancer spreading from another site to the spine.
Common primary cancers that spread to the spine are lung, breast and prostate. Lung cancer is the most common cancer to metastasize to the bone in men, and breast cancer is the most common in women. Other cancers that spread to the spine include multiple myeloma, lymphoma, melanoma and sarcoma, as well as cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, kidney and thyroid. Prompt diagnosis and identification of the primary malignancy is crucial to overall treatment. Numerous factors can affect outcome, including the nature of the primary cancer, the number of lesions, the presence of distant non-skeletal metastases and the presence and/or severity of spinal-cord compression.
Types of Spinal Tumors
Vertebral Column Tumors:
These tumors involve the bones of the vertebral column.
The majority of vertebral column tumors are metastatic. That is, the original, or primary, tumor developed in another organ and has spread to the vertebral column, usually through the bloodstream. The most common metastatic spinal tumors in women are from the breast and lung. In men, metastatic spinal tumors are most often from the prostate and lung.
Tumors arising from vertebral bone and cartilage cells also happen in the spine, although less frequently. Examples of these primary spinal column tumors include osteoid osteoma, osteoblastoma, and giant cell tumor, which are benign, and osteogenic sarcoma, chordoma, chondrosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma, which are malignant bone tumors.
Spinal tumors may reason a variety of symptoms depending on their type, location, and rate of growth.
In general, the most common pattern of symptoms is pain at the tumor site in the neck or back, followed by neurological problems like weakness / numbness in the arms or legs or a change in normal bowel or bladder habits.
In patients already diagnosed with cancer of another area of the body, the new onset of spinal pain may indicate a spinal fracture caused by a metastatic tumor that has weakened a vertebra.
Tumors that arise inside the dura are generally benign and slow growing. Patients with these tumors may have pain for years before any neurological problems occur.