Spinal Cord Tumours – Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
A spinal tumour is an abnormal growth of cells forming a lump within the spinal cord or around its bones. When this lump grows within the spinal cord or around its covering area, it is called an intradural tumour. When this growth affects the spinal bones, it is called a vertebral tumour. Based on its location, this tumour is distinguished into several types.
In some patients, spinal cord tumours originate inside vertebrae, and in other cases, it gets transferred from different body parts and metastasises inside the spinal cord. It is a fatal disease and may cause permanent disability or neurological problems.
Types of Spinal Cord Tumours
Types of spinal cord tumours are identified based on region and location.
Following is a table summarising different spinal tumour types based on their location and effect.
Types of Spinal Tumours
Inside thin covering (dura) of spinal cord or Intradural-extramedullary
Arachnoid membrane, nerve roots originating from schwannomas and neurofibromas.
Causes meningiomas, neurofibroma, schwannoma, and filum ependymomas tumour that makes the spinal cord get enlarged and the neural structure delicate
Inside part of the spinal cord or intramedullary or inside glial cells
In the thoracic region, filum or bottom region of the spinal cord, cervicothoracic spinal region
Causes astrocytomas, ependymomas, or lipomas tumour
Outside the thin covering (dura) or extradural
Intervertebral foramina in the outer region of the spinal canal
Causes metastatic cancer
The cervical part of the spinal cord
Causes neurofibroma tumour causing restricted movement of head and neck leading to neurological problem and imbalance
The thoracic part of the spinal cord
Upper back and abdominal section of the spine (between cervical and lumbar part)
Causes ependymoma affecting anterior and posterior vertebrae
Lumber part of spinal cord
The lower part of the spine consisting 5 vertebrae between the ribs and pelvis
It affects neurological functions and makes spinal instability
Sacrum part of spinal cord
Between lumbar and tailbone
Causes sacral chordomas with rectal dysfunction and injury in the lower vertebral part
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Tumours
The tumour affects blood vessels, nerve roots, and bones of spines. Therefore, it manifests as pain and numbness.
Some spinal tumour symptoms are -
- Pain in the back and at the site of growth.
- Pain radiating from the spine to the chest and other parts of the body.
- Feeling less sensitive to cold and heat.
- Difficulty in balancing and walking.
- Muscle weakness and cramps.
One of the symptoms of spinal cord tumours is back pain radiating to the chest, arms, and legs. This pain worsens at night and makes it difficult to lie.
If you are wondering what the symptoms of a spinal tumour are, here are some additional data on this topic.
What Are the Causes of Spinal Cord Tumours?
The specific causes of spinal cord tumours are unknown. However, it may be due to a compromised immune system, exposure to cancer-causing agents, or genetic factors.
However, if any pain, infection, or numbness persists for more than a month, then you must consult a doctor for screening.
Who Is at Risk of Spinal Tumour?
Neurofibromatosis 2 and Von Hippel-Lindau disease are two genetic disorders causing spinal tumours. These two factors can be spinal tumour causes. Hence, people with family history must keep periodic screening.
How Is a Spinal Tumour Diagnosed?
Spinal tumour diagnosis can be made by following diagnostic tests -
- CT Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Bone scan
Treatment Options for Spinal Cord Tumours
Spinal tumour treatment processes are as follows -
- Administering corticosteroids drugs.
- Surgery – Removing or transplanting spinal cord cells.
- Radiation therapy – Treating the cancerous cells with radiations from heavy metals.
- Chemotherapy – Administering medicine for therapy.
Spinal cord tumour treatment is costly, and patients receiving a transplant have a recovery rate of over 63%.
What Is the Prognosis of Spinal Cord Tumour?
Spinal tumour prognosis or outlook depends on the following factors -
- The functional level of the tumour whether affecting daily function or normal brain function.
- Type of tumour, such as astrocytoma, ependymoma, etc.
- Grade or effectiveness of the tumour.
- Mutative capacity of the tumour.
- Location and size.
- Spread of the tumour (cerebrospinal fluid, central nervous system, or limited to spinal cord only).
Spinal cord tumour diagnosis determines the prognosis or outlook of the tumour.
A spinal tumour is a very sensitive case and needs a lot of precision in treatment. On discerning any symptom, you should consult a doctor and take the necessary measures. It can rapidly spread to the brain, and the nerve cells hence are fatal. Cancer in the spinal cord does not get transferred to another body part. However, spinal cord tumours affect the functionality of the whole body as nerve cells get weakened.