A spine cancer is an abnormal growth within your spinal canal or the bones of your spine. A spinal cord tumor, also known as an intradural tumor, develops within the spinal cord or the spinal cord’s sheath which is also called dura. Spinal tumors can be benign or non-cancerous and malignant or cancerous. Spine cancer is classified into two types, primary and secondary. Primary tumors arise from the spine or spinal cord, whereas metastatic or secondary tumors arise from cancer spreading from another place to the spine. In an interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr. Mohit Sharma, Senior Consultant and Head Department of Medical Oncology explained about spine cancer.
Where Do Spine Cancer Develop
Spine tumors can develop in the bones, nerves and other tissues that make up the spine. Less than 10 percent of spine tumors begin in the spine. These can be benign (non-cancerous) growths. Most spine tumors are metastatic, which means they spread from cancer in a different part of the body. As a spine tumor grows, it can weaken bones and compress the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in spine fractures and neurological injuries.
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Symptoms Of Spine Cancer
The symptoms of spinal cancer vary depending on the tumor type, size, location, patient’s health history, and other factors. Symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly, even over a few hours or days. Vertebral tumors that have migrated from another part of the body to the spine grow rapidly.
Spine tumors close to major nerves can disrupt their ability to transmit messages between the body and the brain causing neurological symptoms including weakness, tingling or numbness in both legs or arms, difficulty walking or balancing, sensory problems, loss of bowel and bladder control. The most obvious symptom of spine cancer is pain. The tumor can cause pain by pressing on sensitive nerve endings or producing spinal instability in the spinal column.
Common signs of spinal cancer are as follows:
- Back and/or neck discomfort
- Arm and/or leg aches
- muscle fatigue
- Sensation loss
- Having difficulty walking
- bowel or bladder dysfunction
- Deformities of the spine (hunchback)
- Standing pain or difficulty.
Risk Factors Of Spine Cancer
The risk factors for spinal cancer are mostly unclear. In general, lifestyle factors such as nutrition, activity, body weight, and tobacco consumption have been linked to the development of spine cancer. Nevertheless, these factors can have a long-term impact on a person’s cancer risk. The effects of different environmental, behavioral, and genetic factors on spine cancer prevention, diagnosis, and therapy are being explored by researchers. People with certain immune disorders or genetic conditions such as Neurofibromatosis 2, are more likely to develop spine tumors than other people.
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The treatment options depend upon the tumor’s location and type and may vary from surgical removal of tumor or radiation therapy or chemotherapy/immunotherapy. The overall survival rate is high for most types that start in the spine. Patient should talk with their doctor about survival rate for secondary tumors as that rate usually relates to the primary cancer’s outlook.
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