A person never wants to hear that he or she has a tumor. But a “spinal cord tumor” can cause extra anxiety. The team at Texas Neurosurgery has extensive experience dealing with these types of tumors, creating successful outcomes.
What is a spinal cord tumor?
The name spinal cord tumor is a bit of a misnomer as most tumors don’t form “on” the actual spinal cord but instead somewhere in the area of the spinal cord, such as in the spinal canal.
Spinal tumors are like other types of tumors. Tumors are simply masses of damaged/mutated cells that multiply very rapidly. They can occur as a primary tumor or as a result of the spread of cancer from another area.
The problem usually isn’t the tumor itself but what it does to nearby healthy cells. It can destroy healthy cells or cause them to malfunction. A tumor that forms in the area of the spinal cord can upset the connection between the brain and the nerves or inhibit the cord’s blood supply. When a person has a spinal cord tumor, it can cause symptoms on one or both sides of the body at once, usually in the same place as the tumor, or below where the tumor has formed.
There are two main types of tumors that may affect the spinal cord:
- Intramedullary tumors begin in the cells within the spinal cord itself.
- Extramedullary tumors develop within the supporting network of cells around the spinal cord. Although they don’t begin within the spinal cord itself, these types of tumors may affect spinal cord function by causing compression and other problems.
Symptoms of spinal cord tumors
Spinal cord tumors can cause a variety of nerve-related symptoms. The majority of these tumors grow below the neck. The symptoms usually radiate through the same area of the body where the tumor is located.
Signs and symptoms of tumors affecting the spinal cord may include:
- Back pain, sometimes radiating to other parts of your body
- Loss of sensation, especially in your arms or legs
- Difficulty walking, sometimes leading to falls
- Decreased sensitivity to pain, heat, and cold
- Loss of bowel or bladder function
- Muscle weakness in varying degrees and different parts of your body, depending on which nerves or part of the spinal cord are compressed
Like any tumor, spinal cord tumors need immediate attention so that they don’t spread to other areas and so they don’t cause serious issues with spinal cord compression and other painful outcomes.
At Texas Neurosurgery, we find that complete tumor resection is usually the most effective treatment method for spinal cord tumors. Many of these tumors are easy to remove because they do not form on the actual spinal cord.
If you have any of the above symptoms, you may have a spinal cord tumor. Call the team at Texas Neurosurgery, 214-823-2052, and let’s take a look.