A spinal tumor is a growth that develops within your spinal canal or within the bones of your spine. A spinal cord tumor, also called an intradural tumor, is a spinal tumor that that begins within the spinal cord or the covering of the spinal cord (dura). A tumor that affects the bones of the spine (vertebrae) is called a vertebral tumor.
Tumors in the spinal column may cause back pain by damaging healthy tissues, such as the vertebrae (bones), and/or by compressing (pinching) the nerves. Additional symptoms can include the following:
It's not clear why most spinal tumors develop. Experts suspect that defective genes play a role. But it's usually not known whether such genetic defects are inherited or simply develop over time. They might be caused by something in the environment, such as exposure to certain chemicals. In some cases, however, spinal cord tumors are linked to known inherited syndromes, such as neurofibromatosis 2 and von Hippel-Lindau disease
Ideally, the goal of spinal tumor treatment is to eliminate the tumor completely,
but this goal may be complicated by the risk of permanent damage to the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.
Doctors also must take into account your age and overall health.
Treatment options for most spinal tumors include
Monitoring - Some spinal tumors may be discovered before they cause symptoms — often when you're being evaluated for another condition. If small tumors aren't growing or pressing on surrounding tissues, watching them carefully may be all that's needed.
Surgery - This is often the treatment of choice for tumors that can be removed with an acceptable risk of spinal cord or nerve injury damage. Newer techniques and instruments allow neurosurgeons to reach tumors that were once considered inaccessible. The high-powered microscopes used in microsurgery make it easier to distinguish tumor from healthy tissue.
Radiation therapy - This may be used to eliminate the remnants of tumors that remain after surgery, to treat inoperable tumors or to treat those tumors where surgery is too risky.
Chemotherapy - A standard treatment for many types of cancer, chemotherapy uses medications to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing. Your doctor can determine whether chemotherapy might be beneficial for you, either alone or in combination with radiation therapy. Side effects may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, increased risk of infection and hair loss.