Diagnosing & Treating Malignant Spinal Tumors
Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 13, 2020
Tumors of the spine are rare, but they can have serious consequences and need to be treated with the help of a spine specialist. Even when they are benign, spinal tumors can affect the integrity and stability of your spine. Malignant tumors cause even more problems, and they need to be treated as soon as possible to have the best outcomes. Below, we take a closer look at some of the warning signs of spinal tumor, and we share how malignant forms are diagnosed and treated.
Warning Signs Of Malignant Spinal Tumors
A spinal tumor can arise from a variety of different areas in your spine, including your bones, nerves, spinal cord or the soft tissues in and around the spine. As they grow, they can compress the spinal cord or the nearby spinal nerves, causing pain and other symptoms. Besides back pain, some of the most common symptoms of a spinal tumor are:
- Arm or leg discomfort or weakness
- Balance issues
- Difficulty walking
- Sensitivity to pressure
The problem with these symptoms is that they mirror the symptoms of a lot of other spinal conditions, so patients may not believe their pain is serious. However, if it persists longer than a few days or doesn’t respond to conservative care, head to a specialist so they can take a closer look.
Diagnosing and Treating Malignant Spinal Tumors
The first step in the diagnostic process is to head to a spine specialist’s office. There, your doctor will listen to your symptoms, review your medical charts, conduct a physical exam and proceed with imaging tests like an x-ray or MRI. Used in combination, these diagnostic procedures can help to pinpoint the location of a spinal growth.
If a spinal tumor is found on the imaging test, the likely next step is a biopsy. This will help the doctor determine if you’re dealing with a benign or malignant tumor. The biopsy will involve sticking a needle into the area of the tumor to collect a tissue sample. The sample will be tested and a treatment plan will be developed based on the test results.
In the event that the tests show that the growth is malignant, your specialist will walk you through your treatment options. These may vary based on the size and location of the tumor, but in many cases, patients will have a few options including a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. The goal of all treatment options is to isolate the malignant tumor and eventually remove the malignant growth from your body. Caught early enough and cared for by a skilled medical team, many patients see great treatment results, but time is a big factor, so don’t delay in heading to the doctor if something feels off with your spine.
We’ve helped countless patients treat their benign and malignant tumors in the past, and we can do the same for you. For more information, or for help with all your spinal needs, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.