Spine Tumors & Spinal Cancer Symptoms & Treatment
Questions About Spine Cancer?
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While there are many different types of spinal tumors and the exact cause of spinal cancer is not yet known, our team gives you access to the most advanced diagnostic technology and spinal cancer treatment.
What is spinal cancer?
Most spinal cancers are metastatic or secondary cancers, meaning that they do not often begin in the spine, but in another area of the body. Most spinal tumors are epidural tumors which grow in the bones of your spine. This, in turn, can cause compression of the spinal cord, nerves and spinal fluid.
Signs and symptoms of spinal cancer:
If you have the following symptoms, there's not necessarily a reason to worry. However, we highly encourage you to see a doctor for these common symptoms of spinal cancer:
- Abnormal sensation or loss of feeling in your arms and legs: This could be a result of nerve damage caused by a spinal tumor.
- Back or neck pain: Usually, this type of pain is not a cause for concern. However, if the pain does not subside, becomes more severe, or spreads to other areas of your body, it's time to visit your doctor.
- Muscle spasms or reflexes: When nerve compression in the spine happens, muscles can contract and cause twitches or "spasms."
- Muscle weakness: Although another common symptom of spinal cancer, muscle weakness does have many underlying causes. If the weakness progresses, ask your doctor about next steps.
- Muscle function loss: This is different than the fleeting muscle weakness. If your daily activities become difficult to perform, then you may be experiencing a loss of muscle function.
- Incontinence: Because spinal cancer can affect nerves that control the bladder, incontinence is often a common occurrence in patients diagnosed with spine tumors or spinal cancer.
How is spinal cancer diagnosed?
Our team at the Bennett Cancer Center uses spine x-rays, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid), blood cell count, myelogram (x-ray with contrast dye), spinal CT scans and spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to help determine the proper diagnosis for you.
What makes spinal cancer treatment at Stamford Health unique?
Your care team is comprised of leading experts in neurosurgery and oncology, experienced in treating the various types of spinal tumors and spinal cancer.
Spine Cancer Treatment
We often use surgery for spinal tumor treatment when we see substantial risk of nerve damage. Our neurosurgeons use newer techniques and instruments that allow them to reach tumors that were once inaccessible. You can take comfort in knowing we always strive for minimally invasive surgery whenever possible. That means less pain, less blood loss, and reduced need for blood transfusions. And that all leads to a shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery time, and faster return to normal daily activities.
Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are surgeries that relieve pain from compression fractures of the spine due to tumors or other conditions. Both procedures involve injecting a cement-like mixture into the spaces of the fracture. After surgery, you may not need strong pain relievers and may be able to move and walk more comfortably.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a medical therapy for people who suffer from chronic spine-related pain. SCS uses a small implanted device to generate tiny electrical pulses that replace the feeling of pain with a tingling or massaging sensation.
Morphine pumps are used to control severe and chronic pain. A morphine pump is inserted under the skin, with a catheter running from the pump to the spinal cord. The catheter delivers medication directly to the spinal cord, so much smaller doses of morphine are needed and there are fewer generalized side effects.
Your care team will make sure your transition after treatment is smooth. We know if you’ve had a spinal tumor, pain management can be a significant factor in improving your quality of life. That’s why our staff is skilled in various pain management procedures.