A comprehensive guide to spinal cord tumors and everything you want to know about it!
Tumors can develop in the spinal canal and in some cases; it is also found that certain tumors develop within the bones of the spine itself. These are known as vertebral tumors. This kind of tumor can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Medical authorities are of the view that there are generally two kinds of spinal cord tumors. Firstly, the intramedullary tumors are those that develop in the cells present in the spinal cord. Secondly, there are extra medullary tumors that form outside the spinal cord, particularly, within the cell network that supports it. Both these kinds of tumors can really encumber the normal functioning of the spine as they apply pressure on it and can cause further problems.
The symptoms caused by spinal cord tumors depend from person to person. These are mostly dependent on the tumor location and size that can affect not only the spinal cord but also the surrounding nerves and blood vessels. The earliest symptom of spinal cord tumor is back pain that may radiate to other body parts. The affected person may further experience loss of sensation, difficulty in walking, improper bowel functioning, muscle weakening and so on.
2 Medical assistance is a must
In case you experience persistent and progressive back pain then consulting a doctor is a must. It is better to opt for a specialist if you feel that your symptom is not related to any physical activity or worsens during the night. If you happen to experience any of the symptoms related to spinal cord tumor, it is advisable to go and see a specialist as soon as possible.
The most common complication associated with spinal cord tumor is the loss of bowel movements or bladder function. It is common for the tumor growth to compress the spinal cord and damage the nerves, sometimes permanently. It is because of this reason that the patient may feel loss of sensation and this can be a life threatening condition depending on the region where the tumor is situated.
4 Risk factors
Spinal cord tumors are associated with a variety of risk factors. Medical experts claim that among the conditions that affect your chances of being prone to spinal cord tumor, the most common is exposure to radiation. This is, in fact, the most common environmental risk factor that revolves around spinal cord tumors. Sometimes, the condition runs in the family genes when, and if someone has a weak immune system then he or she is likely to get affected by tumors in the spinal cord.
5 Available medical treatments
The ultimate goal of the treatment of this condition is the complete removal of the tumor. However, this is not possible at all times because such tumors are known to permanently damage the spinal cord and the surrounding nerves along the way. Depending on your age, tumor location, overall health and severity of the problem, your doctor will choose any one of the following treatments for spinal cord tumor:
Monitoring – In case the tumor is non-cancerous, then there is a need of constant monitoring in order to ensure that necessary actions are taken to combat the growth of the cancer cells.
Surgery – If the patient is willing to take the risk of having the tumor surgically removed, then surgery is the most common choice of treatment. Off late, there have been major advancements in the process of surgical removal of tumors of the spinal cord which has resulted in specialists now being able to eliminate the tumor growth, even in those locations that were not accessible until very recently.
Radiation therapy – This is the commonly opted method for eliminating traces of the tumor after the surgical procedure. Patients who are not eligible for surgery owing to the risks involved in the procedure are also treated with radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is often done in juxtaposition with radiation therapy. Otherwise, this kind of medication is a way to stop the tumor from spreading further and kill the cancerous cells present in the spine.
Patients with spinal cord tumor, along with proper medical assistance need to have a positive attitude towards life. There have been several patients who have fought against cancer and emerged out as a winner. With the right attitude, you can definitely win the greatest of battles!