In a few cases, cancer cells spread from their original tumour to the other parts of the body to form a new tumour in another body part or tissue. This phenomenon is called metastasis, and the tumour formed this way is called a metastatic tumour.
A metastatic spinal tumour is a spinal tumour that forms when the tumour spreads from other parts of the body to the spine. Metastatic spinal tumours can be highly aggressive and dangerous, causing severe problems based on their type, size, and location. What are the types of spinal tumours, what makes them dangerous, and how are they treated? With the input of a spine surgeon in the UK, Mr. Jwalant S Mehta, we have answered questions in this blog here:
Types of Metastatic Spinal Tumours:
Metastasis can occur in any part of the spine, and they are primarily classified based on the region the spinal tumour develops. Cervical spinal tumours form in the neck area, thoracic near the chest area, lumbar in the lower neck, and spinal tumours in the sacrum at the bottom of the spine.
In addition, the tumours’ location may vary in each of these areas too. Tumours may form on the outer layer of the spine – an extradural spinal tumour, on the inner layer of the spine, an intradural spinal tumour, or inside the spine itself, called an intramedullary spinal tumour.
Symptoms of Metastatic Spinal Tumours:
In the early stages, patients may not experience any symptoms. However, as the tumour grows, it tends to exert pressure on the spinal nerves around the spinal cord, eventually damaging the bone, which causes pain and spinal instability, spinal deformations, and other spinal disk problems, according to Mr. Jwalant S. Mehta, a spinal disk problem specialist and spine deformity correction surgeon in the UK.
Based on their location, each type of spinal tumour can cause different problems of its own, causing a variety of problems which include:
- Back pain & limited mobility
- Tingling sensation in arms, chest, and legs
- Sensory perception of heat or cold
- Spinal deformity or paralysis
- Bladder control problems
- Difficulty in walking or standing
- Weakness in the legs, arms, and chest.
Diagnosis & Treatment for Metastatic Spinal Tumours:
Back pain is common in everyone and is usually treated with physical therapy, stretching exercises, and pain relief medications. When the back pain doesn’t go away, and the medical history is sufficiently known, a healthcare professional suggests further biopsy, blood tests, imaging studies, and bone scans to explore the causes of the persistent back pain. As metastatic spinal tumours spread from other tumours, the tumour’s incidence is give away in most cases.
Treatment for metastatic spinal tumours is tailored according to the tumour’s location, size, and severity. The ultimate aim of the treatment plan is to relieve the pain, enhance mobility, and improve the overall quality of life of the patient. The treatment plan usually involves active surveillance, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. For more information on metastatic spine tumours, you can contact Children and Adult Spinal Surgeon Mr. Jwalant S Mehta.