A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth or mass in or on the spine. If the growth starts in the spinal cord, it is called a spinal cord tumor. If it starts in the bone, it is called a vertebral tumor.
Spinal tumors can be either cancerous or noncancerous (benign). However, benign tumors can still cause serious problems when they put pressure on the spinal cord or involve spinal nerves.
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What causes spinal tumors?
There are two general types of spinal tumors:
- Metastatic spinal tumors start, or spread, from cancer in another part of the body. Most spinal tumors are this type.
- Primary tumors are ones that start in the spine. Less than 10 percent of spinal tumors are this type. Primary tumors can be cancerous or benign. Their cause is unknown.
Symptoms of spinal tumors
Signs and symptoms depend on the type, location, and size of the tumor. Pain is usually the first symptom of a spinal tumor. The pain tends to slowly get worse and may cause more pain when you move or spread to other parts of the body.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain in your arms or legs
- Difficulty walking or keeping your balance
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Treating spinal tumors at Dignity Health
Your treatment options depend on the type of tumor, how much it has spread (its stage), your age, and your overall health. Before deciding on a treatment, our doctors also consider the potential risks of permanent damage to the spinal cord and nerves. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you so that you can find the right care for your needs.
Spinal surgery to remove the tumor is usually the treatment of choice for primary tumors. Other options include radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. A combination of treatments is often necessary. For metastatic tumors, the goal of treatment is to shrink the tumor and prevent or relieve symptoms.
Dignity Health provides comprehensive, advanced care for back pain in Merced and in the surrounding area.