What Is Cancer Of The Spine Called – There are 2 general types of spinal tumors that can cause pain: primary tumors and secondary (metastatic) tumors.
It is estimated that approximately 90% of spinal tumors diagnosed are metastatic. 3 Ziu E, Mesfin FB. Cancer, vertebral metastases. [Updated April 23, 2019]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 January -. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441950/.
What Is Cancer Of The Spine Called
A spinal tumor that forms outside the outermost protective layer of the spinal cord (dura) is known as an extradural tumor (epidural tumor). These tumors are usually metastatic and have spread from cancer to another part of the body.
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An intradural-extramedullary (inside the dura mater) tumor grows beneath the outermost layer (dura mater) that lines the spinal cord, but outside the spinal cord. Usually these tumors are benign and slow growing. They can cause symptoms of pain and weakness.
An intramedullary tumor grows inside the spinal cord and usually arises from cells that provide physical support and insulation for the nervous system (glial cells). These tumors most often occur in the cervical spine (neck). 5 Tobin MK, Geraghty JR, Engelhard HH, Linninger AA, Mehta AI. Intramedullary tumors of the spinal cord: a review of current and future treatment strategies. Focus neurosurgery. 2015; 39 (2): E14. doi: https://doi.org/10.3171/2015.5.FOCUS15158. They tend to be benign, and surgery to remove the tumor can be difficult. The two most common types of intramedullary tumors are astrocytomas and ependymomas.
Gathering as much information as possible about the type and location of a spinal tumor, as well as the symptoms it causes, is essential to reach an accurate diagnosis.
Dr. Rob Dickerman is a neurological and spine surgeon at the North Texas Brain and Spine Institute. He has over 15 years of clinical experience and specializes in spinal biomechanics, spinal cord injury and brain tumors. For people who suffer from severe back pain, it is natural to wonder if the pain could be a sign of spine cancer. Although most back pain is not related to cancer or tumors, it is possible and important to get it checked out. This article explains when back pain may be related to a spinal tumor, how to get an accurate diagnosis, and what to consider for treatment options.
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Tumors growing in the vertebrae can weaken the bones of the spine, causing them to break and collapse. Show:
A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth of cells in the spine. These tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). A cancerous tumor consists of abnormal cells that continue to divide uncontrollably and have the potential to spread through the blood or lymphatic system.
Metastatic spinal cord tumors develop when cancer cells from other parts of the body, such as the breast, kidney, or lung, migrate through the bloodstream and lodge in the spine. Most metastatic spine tumors arise in the thoracic spine.
Spinal cord tumors can also be classified according to whether they are outside the spinal cord (extradural), inside the protective covering of the spinal cord (intradural-extramedullary), or inside the spinal cord, inside the spinal cord itself ( intramedullary).
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Other signs and symptoms that could potentially indicate the origin of back pain from cancer include unplanned weight loss, nausea, fever, chills, or other troubling symptoms.
Cancer is more likely to occur with age. 3 Xu Z, Taylor JA. Genome-associated DNA methylation changes in blood and other tissues are associated with histone modification, expression, and cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2014; 35(2): 356-64. doi:10.1093/carcin/bgt391. People over the age of 50 or who have had cancer in the past are at increased risk of developing a cancerous tumor of the spine. 1 Ziu E, Mesfin FB. Cancer, vertebral metastases. [Updated April 23, 2019]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 January -. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441950/.
The growth rate of a cancerous spinal tumor can vary depending on the type. The tumor may be relatively small and contained to the spine, or it may have already spread through the blood or lymph (a fluid that travels through the body) from another part of the body. An untreated cancerous spinal tumor is likely to continue to grow and may become fatal.
Spinal cancer treatment options may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgical removal of the tumor. In cases where the patient is unlikely to tolerate the surgery well, or if the cancer is at an advanced stage, palliative care may be offered to reduce pain and keep them as comfortable as possible, rather than removing the tumor.
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When unexplained back pain persists for several weeks despite rest and/or self-care, it is usually recommended to see a doctor for a medical evaluation. Severe back pain that interferes with daily activities, or any back pain accompanied by warning symptoms such as nausea or weight loss, requires immediate medical evaluation. For people who currently have or have had cancer, any new back pain should be evaluated by a doctor immediately.
It’s also important to note that back pain rarely turns out to be cancer. Getting an accurate back pain diagnosis from a medical professional is an important first step toward finding an effective treatment plan.
Dr. Rob Dickerman is a neurological and spine surgeon at the North Texas Brain and Spine Institute. He has over 15 years of clinical experience and specializes in spinal biomechanics, spinal cord injury and brain tumors. A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue found in the spine. When a tumor spreads to the spine from cancer elsewhere in the body, it is called a metastatic spine tumor (secondary tumor). These tumors can also be called spine metastases.
Most metastatic spine tumors are found in the vertebrae (bones of the spine). Rarely, they can develop in the spinal cord or its protective covering (dura mater). While the first symptom of a metastatic spinal tumor is usually back pain, not all metastatic spinal tumors are symptomatic.
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The areas of the body where cancer cells most commonly metastasize or spread are the kidneys, lungs, and bones. When cancer spreads to a bone, it is usually one or more vertebrae because of the large venous network in the spine.
Cancer cells usually reach the spine through the bloodstream, after which they enter the bone marrow and begin to multiply. Tumors in the vertebrae can weaken the bone, eventually causing it to fracture. A fracture can cause severe pain, instability of the spine and seriously affect the patient’s quality of life.
Back pain caused by a metastatic spinal tumor can be a deep pain felt in the spine, or it can sometimes radiate to the leg, chest, or elsewhere in the body, depending on the location of the tumor. If the spinal cord or spinal nerves are compressed or damaged, neurological deficits may develop, such as numbness or weakness affecting the arms, legs, or trunk. In extreme cases, paralysis can occur.
People over 50 or with a history of cancer are more likely to develop a metastatic spinal tumor. An untreated metastatic spinal tumor is likely to continue to grow and may become fatal.
Lumbosacral Spine X Ray
Treatment for a metastatic spinal tumor depends on many factors, including the patient’s general health and life expectancy. There is a better prognosis (long-term perspective) when treatments can preserve neurological function, such as the ability to walk. 1 Vailant B, Loghin M. Treatment of spinal cord tumors. Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2009; 11 (4): 315-24. doi:10.1007/s11940-009-0035-3
Treatment options for metastatic spine tumors may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery. In cases of advanced cancer or when the patient is unlikely to tolerate surgery well, palliative care is usually recommended. Palliative care focuses on reducing pain and living comfortably, rather than treating or removing the tumor(s).
Spinal tumors can occur anywhere along the spine, but most occur in the thoracic region (mid to upper back) 2 Ziu E, Mesfin FB. Cancer, vertebral metastases. [Updated April 23, 2019]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 January -. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441950/:
It is also possible for metastatic spinal tumors to occur in more than one region of the spine at the same time. Approximately 90% of spinal tumors diagnosed are metastatic spinal tumors. 2 Ziu E, Mesfin FB. Cancer, vertebral metastases. [Updated April 23, 2019]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 January -. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441950/
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Anyone with cancer or a history of cancer should see their doctor if back pain comes on slowly, the onset of pain is sudden, and/or if existing back pain worsens.
Cancer patients who develop new signs and symptoms, especially those that include a neurological component (for example, loss of bowel or bladder control, loss of muscle function or weakness) or radiating pain (radiating into an arm or leg), you should seek immediate medical attention.
Dr. David DeWitt is an orthopedic surgeon practicing at the NeuroSpin Center of Wisconsin, where he specializes in spine surgery. He has over 15 years of experience in the assessment and treatment of spinal diseases and trauma. A spinal cord tumor is a mass of tissue in the spinal cord made up of abnormal cells. Tumors that start in the spinal cord itself are called primary tumors. Tumors that invade the spine from another part of the body are called secondary or metastatic tumors.
Benign tumors do not infiltrate the tissue of the spinal cord or surrounding structures. Cancerous tumors of the spinal cord can invade surrounding tissues to varying degrees and spread to other
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