Spinal tumors are atypical growths inside the spinal column that usually
cause pain and other symptoms. Spine tumors can be identified in several
different ways and there is a wide range of descriptions that address
them. One way to describe a spine tumor is by whether it is primary or
primary tumor is one that originated in the spine or spinal column.
metastatic tumor is one that grows as an extension of another cancer (such as breast, liver,
colon, or kidney). More than 40 percent of patients who have cancer will
experience the spread of their cancer to their spine in their lifetime.
Another way to describe a tumor is by whether it is benign vs. malignant:
benign spinal tumor usually has clear borders and edges and does not penetrate the surrounding
healthy tissue. A benign tumor isn’t cancerous, but it may need
to be removed if it’s causing additional symptoms or placing too
much pressure on the spine. Benign spine tumors include meningiomas, schwannomas,
osteoid osteomas, and osteoblastomas.
malignant tumor is a cancerous growth that spreads and affects other tissue. Malignant
spine tumors include chondrosarcomas, Ewing sarcomas, and osteosarcomas.
Spinal tumors can also be categorized by their location within the spine:
Intramedullary: Tumors that grow in the spinal cord itself, or in the nerves coming out
of the spinal cord, usually in the upper spine or neck Intramedullary
tumors are frequently benign but can be harder to remove due to their location.
Intradural-extramedullary: Tumors that occur outside the spinal cord but within its protective covering.
These tumors are frequently benign, but they can also be hard to remove
surgically and may grow back after treatment.
Extradural: The most common type of spinal tumors, forming outside the spinal cord
in the bones and cartilage of the vertebrae. Some extradural tumors develop
from the vertebrae themselves (primary), but extradural tumors are more
frequently metastatic tumors that spread from other cancers.
The treatment and patient outcomes for a spine tumor vary based on whether
it is primary or metastatic, benign or malignant, and other health factors
such as comorbidities. Treatment at a comprehensive spine center can give
patients the widest range of expert options available, along with access
to clinical trials and cutting-edge research.
Treatment can include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination
of all three depending on the unique circumstances surrounding each tumor.
Pain management and preserving neurologic capacity is a key component
of spine treatment delivered at comprehensive spine centers. Multiple
treatment options are available in our care, from surgery to improve spinal
deformities or nerve compression to interventional techniques injected
into the bone to help strengthen the spine. Please
contact us for further information.
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