When we talk about a tumor, we refer to the abnormal growth of a group of cells that do not fulfill any physiological function. This mass of tissue tends to invade different areas of the body, depending on where it arose and It can be malignant or benign depending on how it progresses over time.. That is why it is so important to be attentive to symptoms in order to receive a timely diagnosis.
What is a spinal cord tumor and what types exist?
The tumor that affects the spinal cord grows through the internal vertebral canal or below the vertebral bones.
To determine the prognosis and treatment It is essential to determine what type of tumor it is about. In this case, there are differentiations according to the type of cell that causes it, the degree of growth of the tumor, the mutations of the tumor cells and the place where the tumor has originated, whether it is the brain or the spinal cord.
Which They are the most common types of intradural tumors and their main characteristics
Taking into account the factors mentioned above we can differentiate the following existing types of spinal cord tumors, also called intradural tumors:
They are those tumors that have their origin in the glial cells that are responsible for surrounding and helping nerve cells function. Tumors can be caused by three different types of glial cells that will determine the specific characteristics of the tumor and its development. These can be astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas or ependymomas.
This type of tumor arises from the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord and brain known as the meninges. Although it is technically a spinal cord tumor, one of its main effects is pressure on the brain and surrounding vessels. Generally, this type of tumor occurs more in women and has a very slow growth and subtle symptoms that make it very difficult to diagnose.
It is a type of cancerous tumor which appears more frequently in people of the male sex and which grows in the cervical region of the spine, more specifically at the base of the skull, a location that makes it very complicated to treat.
Generally this type of tumor is benign and consists of growth in the form of lumps around the nerves that can be felt under the skin. The symptoms are only noticeable when you put some type of pressure on the nerve and that generates pain, tingling or numbness in the area that that nerve radiates. It occurs most frequently in young people between 20 and 40 years of age.
It is a type of benign tumor that originates in the nerve sheath. Also called intramedullary neuroma It is very rare.
Symptoms that there is a tumor in the spinal cord
The main symptom of a spinal cord tumor is back pain. However, back pain is frequent and occurs for multiple reasons, so it is important to have periodic check-ups with a traumatologist spine specialist. It is also important to take into account risk factors that may increase the chances of developing a tumor, such as age or family history.
Likewise, if you have any of the following symptoms, do not hesitate to consult a doctor:
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Dizziness or fainting
- Intense and progressive pain
Diagnosis from a spinal or intradural tumor
These types of tumors usually present mild symptoms, so They are very difficult to diagnoseTherefore, it is important to have a specialist and trusted trauma doctor who knows the patient's medical history and progress.
To determine the existence of tumors, as well as any other disease that may develop, the doctor will ask you for a diagnostic imaging test (magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography).
If there is a tumor, an examination will be performed biopsy to determine its origin and its characteristicss that the doctor will take into account to define the best treatment to follow.
Treatments existing for tumors in the spinal cord
Once the diagnosis is received, the team of doctors will decide which It is the best treatment to follow. Ideally the goal will be completely remove the tumor, although specialists will take into account the age, the aggressiveness of the tumor and the risks of the treatment to decide between the following alternatives:
- Monitoring: If the tumor is benign and is not affecting any tissue or functionality, the doctor will likely choose to perform regular monitoring to monitor progress and decide to act only if necessary.
- Spine surgery: today there are very advanced techniques that allow the tumor to be removed without subjecting the patient to great risks. For this, it is essential that the surgeon be an experienced and recognized professional in the field.
- Radiotherapy: Once the tumor has been removed, radiotherapy can be used if any remains remain. It is also a treatment that is used for those tumors that cannot be operated on due to surgical risks or decide not to risk dangerous surgery.
- Chemotherapy: it is a treatment that is often used in combination with radiotherapy, and consists of destroying cancer cells using medications.
There is no better treatment, but the best treatment to follow depends on each patient and each tumor. It is also important to seek advice from the best specialists in the follow-up process once the tumor has been removed. You can read more about tracking and “life after tumor" in this article.
For more information consult with our team of spine professionals.