Is Your Spine Pain Cancer?

If your back pain is severe enough, it’s completely understanding to think that maybe the origin of your discomfort stems from cancer. While most Americans who suffer from back pain are cancer free, extreme pain in the spine is the most common symptom of spinal cancers. Tumors in the spine expand the bones that make up the spinal column, often-causing compression, spinal fractures, pinching, and instability.


Most spinal tumors are metastatic, meaning they will spread to other parts of the spine or body. The three most common types of spinal tumors include:


–       Vertebral Column Tumors: mostly occurring in young adults, these tumors grow in the vertebral column, usually forming in the bone or disc areas. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of vertebral column cancer.


–       Intradural-Extramedullary Tumors: these tumors occur in the area underneath the spinal cord known as the Dura. Most of these tumors are benign (harmless) but can still cause discomfort and loss of mobility. Meningioma, a type of benign IE tumor, typically occurs in elderly women.


–       Intramedullary Tumors: these tumors typically occur in the cervical spine (neck area). They arise from nerve cells that provide support to the overall nervous symptom known as glial cells. While these tumors are usually benign, the procedure to remove them is extremely difficult.


Fortunately since so many spinal tumors are benign, there are several different treatment options that are available to patients. Your physician will likely complete a medical history, a physical, and a neurological exam in addition to several other tests such as CAT scans, MRIs, and X-rays. Once it’s been established that the tumors metastasized from another part of the body, the neurologists will concentrate on managing the pain for the patient. This may be done thru:


–       Removing the pressure the tumor causes on any nerve roots

–       Preserving neurological function by removing pressure on the spinal cord

–       Fixing spinal instability through fusion procedures.

If your back pain continually worsens over time or becomes severely excruciating, consult your doctor immediately. As always, these articles are meant for general education and are not intended to diagnose, prevent or treat a specific disease. Please see Dr. Sharma for questions regarding the specific treatment of your symptoms.