The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system, extending as a column of nerve tissue that runs from the base of the brain down the back. It carries important messages from the brain to the rest of the body. A spinal tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue within or surrounding the spinal cord and/or spinal column. These cells grow and multiply uncontrollably, seemingly unchecked by the mechanisms that control normal cells. Spinal tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Symptoms include pain, muscle weakness, difficulty walking and paralysis.
Malignant: A malignant tumor is cancerous. It will destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. Malignant spinal tumors include chordoma, Ewing sarcoma, and occasional tumors. An aggressivetumor grows or spreads quick. A slow-growing tumor grows or spreads slowly. A tumor’s grade is a measure of how aggressive it is likely to be. The grade is usually determined by examining tumor cells . I (least aggressive), II, III, or IV (most aggressive). However, grading systems are different for each kind of tumor.
Metastatic: is the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. Primary tumors originate in the spine or spinal cord, and metastatic or secondary tumors result from cancer spreading from another site to the spine.
The selection of treatments including both surgical and non-surgical is therefore made keeping in mind the various aspects of the patient’s overall health and goals of care. Treatments for spinal cancer vary widely, depending on factors such as the location and extent of the disease. Surgery, interventional radiology and chemotherapy may be used to treat the disease or to relieve side effects. The most common treatments for spinal cancer are given below:
When the tumor is limited only to one portion of the spinal column, we may perform surgery to completely remove the cancer. For metastatic spinal tumors, we may perform the minimum surgery necessary to relieve symptoms.
A standard treatment for many types of cancer, chemotherapy uses medications to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing. Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles: a treatment period followed by a recovery period, then another treatment period, and so on.
Spinal cancer radiation therapy is commonly used following surgical resection of a tumor, to destroy microscopic tumor cells left behind.
There are more treatments depending upon conition.
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