Cancer Symptoms

Spinal Cancer Symptoms : Spinal Cord Cancer Symptoms

What are the symptoms of spinal cancer?

Primary tumors (non-metastatic) of the spinal column are very rare. Primary tumors tend to occur in younger adults. If the tumor causes a fracture in the spine or leads to neurological problems, surgery is usually needed to stabilize the spine. If the tumor causes back pain only, and is sensitive to radiation, radiation therapy can often diminish the pain without surgery.

Following are the potential spinal cancer symptoms :

  • Most spinal column tumors have spread from another area of the body (metastatic), with the majority originally coming from tumors in the breast, prostate, kidney, lung or thyroid. The tumors are usually associated with other symptoms such as loss of appetite, unplanned weight loss, nausea and vomiting, or fever/chills/shakes. This type of tumor tends to occur in older adults. Often, the patient already has a known primary tumor in another part of the body.
  • The most common symptom of a spinal cord or spine tumor is pain. Pain symptoms that may suggest that a tumor or a cancer is responsible for the pain include pain that continues to get worse despite treatment, and that may be associated with other symptoms such as fatigue or weight loss. The pain may be worse at night. The pain can be located near the level of the tumor or it may radiate around the side, down the arm or down the leg. There is also loss of strength and sensory loss as in loss of sensitivity to pain and temperature below the tumor. Gradual pressure on the spinal cord can cause spasticity. Loss of bowel and or bladder control are important signs of pressure on the spinal cord or the lower spinal nerves.
  • Other symptoms of spinal cord cancer may include pain or numbness and motor problems. Pain is worse when you cough or sneeze. You are finding it difficult to pass urine or have a bowel movement
  • The patient may also exparience lumps, moles on the skin, and any other findings that might suggest that you have a tumor somewhere else in your body.
  • Headache, muscle weakness and loss of sensation due to spinal and cranial nerve impairments.
  • Other spinal cord cancer symptoms include changes in behavior confusion, listlessness, impaired memory and judgment, and frequent mood changes. Seizures may also occur.
  • A common symptom of spinal cancer is excess water in the brain due to blockage of spinal fluid pathways.

spinal cancer symptoms : spinal anatomy

Because symptoms produced by a central nervous system tumor often resemble the symptoms of other diseases, careful evaluation and diagnosis are critical to determine the cause of these symptoms. Primary tumors (non-metastatic) of the spinal column are very rare. Primary tumors tend to occur in younger adults. If the tumor causes a fracture in the spine or leads to neurological problems, surgery is usually needed to stabilize the spine. If the tumor causes back pain only, and is sensitive to radiation, radiation therapy can often diminish the pain without surgery.

spinal cancer symptoms : spine vertical section

Summary of spinal cancer symptoms :

  • Pain that continues to get worse despite treatment. Pain increases when you cough or sneeze.
  • Numbness.
  • Motor problems due to disruption of signals by the cancer.
  • Difficulty in passing urine or having a bowel movement.
  • Lumps, moles on the skin.
  • Focal spine pain that is worse in the morning.
  • Back pain along with constitutional symptoms, such as loss of appetite, unplanned weight loss, nausea, vomiting, or fever, chills or shakes

For patients with cancer elsewhere in the body, any new complaint of spine pain or neurological deficits requires an immediate evaluation to determine if the cancer has spread to the spine.

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