Spinal Cord Tumors

Spinal Cord Tumors

The spinal cord stretches from the stand of your brain, through the backbone, to your lower back. A spinal cord tumor is an unrestrained growth of tissue that develops within the spinal cord or surrounding bones and can be cancerous spreading to other parts of the body or noncancerous (benign), remaining as a stationary lump. Spinal cord tumors are classified based on their location in relation to the three protective layers surrounding the spinal cord.

Types of spinal cord tumors include

Intramedullary tumors: found in the nerve cells within the spinal cord

Extramedullary tumors: develop from the cells supporting the spinal cord

The reason for spinal cord tumors is not very clear. They may be inherited, caused due to a genetic defect or may happen due to exposure to certain chemicals. Tumors from a variety of other parts of the body can also spread to the spinal cord.

Symptoms of spinal cord tumors

  • Reduced sensitivity to pain, heat, and cold
  • Reduced or loss of sensation in your arms and legs
  • Back pain radiating to various parts of your body
  • The weakness of muscles in different parts of your body
  • Loss of bowel movement and bladder function

Spinal tumors are hard to diagnose due to the similarity of symptoms to other situation. When you present to the clinic with the above symptoms, your doctor thoroughly reviews your medical history and performs a total physical and neurological examination. Imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans and biopsy are confirmatory tests that may be ordered to locate the accurate place of your tumor.

Treatment for spinal cord tumor is aimed at total destruction of the tumor and is based on your age, overall health, and type of tumor.

Some of the treatment options include

Monitoring: Your doctor suggests frequent monitoring of your spinal tumor if it is diagnosed at a very early stage, even before the development of symptoms. This is indicated for the elderly, in whom surgical treatments can pose severe health risks.

Surgery: The surgical removal of the tumor is most often the treatment of choice. Tumour excision is performed using high-powered microscopes while monitoring the functioning of the surrounding nerves and blood vessels to decrease the risk of damage to these tissues. Your surgeon may use high-frequency sound waves to first break down the tumor into fragments, which can then be with no trouble excised. However, if your tumor cannot be removed totally, surgery will be combined with radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy: High energy radiation is used to destroy remnants of spinal tumors after surgery, for those that cannot take care of with surgery or metastatic cancers that have spread from other parts of your body to the spinal cord. Stereotactic radiosurgery is a method where a high dose of radiation is precisely targeted on a tumor to treat it. Radiation treatment may reason side effects such as nausea and vomiting.

Chemotherapy: This treatment engages the use of drugs to destroy the tumor cells or restrict their growth. Chemotherapy can also be used in combination with radiation therapy. It may pose side effects such as nausea, fatigue and hair loss.