Spine Cancer: Symptoms, Risk And Treatment

Spine tumours can develop in the bones, nerves and other tissues that make up the spine. Read to know more about spine cancer.   

Written by: Sambhav Kumar Updated at: 2023-01-19 16:40

A spine cancer is an abnormal growth within your spinal canal or the bones of your spine. A spinal cord tumour, also known as an intradural tumour, develops within the spinal cord or the spinal cord's sheath which is also called dura. Spinal tumours can be benign or non-cancerous and malignant or cancerous. Spine cancer is classified into two types, primary and secondary. Primary tumours arise from the spine or spinal cord, whereas metastatic or secondary tumours arise from cancer spreading from another place to the spine. In an interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr. Mohit Sharma , Senior Consultant and Head Department of Medical Oncology, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad explained about spine cancer. 

Where Do Spine Cancer Develop

Spine tumours can develop in the bones, nerves and other tissues that make up the spine. Less than 10 percent of spine tumours begin in the spine. These can be benign (non-cancerous) growths. Most spine tumours are metastatic, which means they spread from cancer in a different part of the body. As a spine tumour grows, it can weaken bones and compress the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in spine fractures and neurological injuries. 

Also read: Cervical Cancer Prevention: The Importance Of Pap Smear Tests For Women

Symptoms Of Spine Cancer

The symptoms of spinal cancer vary depending on the tumour type, size, location, patient's health history, and other factors. Symptoms might appear gradually or suddenly, even over a few hours or days. Vertebral tumours that have migrated from another part of the body to the spine grow rapidly. 

Spine tumours close to major nerves can disrupt their ability to transmit messages between the body and the brain causing neurological symptoms including weakness, tingling or numbness in both legs or arms, difficulty walking or balancing, sensory problems, loss of bowel and bladder control. The most obvious symptom of spine cancer is pain. The tumour can cause pain by pressing on sensitive nerve endings or producing spinal instability in the spinal column.

Common signs of spinal cancer are as follows: 

  • Back and/or neck discomfort
  • Arm and/or leg aches
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Sensation loss
  • Having difficulty walking
  • bowel or bladder dysfunction
  • Deformities of the spine (hunchback)
  • Paralysis
  • Standing pain or difficulty.

Risk Factors Of Spine Cancer

The risk factors for spinal cancer are mostly unclear. In general, lifestyle factors such as nutrition, activity, body weight, and tobacco consumption have been linked to the development of spine cancer. Nonetheless, these factors can have a long-term impact on a person's cancer risk. The effects of different environmental, behavioural, and genetic factors on spine cancer prevention, diagnosis, and therapy are being explored by researchers. People with certain immune disorders or genetic conditions such as Neurofibromatosis 2, are more likely to develop spine tumours than other people. 

Also read: SII To Launch India’s First Homegrown Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Treatment Options

The treatment options depend upon the tumour’s location and type and may vary from surgical removal of tumour or radiation therapy or chemotherapy/immunotherapy. The overall survival rate is high for most types that start in the spine. Patient should talk with their doctor about survival rate for secondary tumours as that rate usually relates to the primary cancer’s outlook.


Image Credit: FreePik


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