Spinal cord tumors are abnormal growths of tissue found inside the skull or the spinal column. They can be either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Either way, they can place pressure on tissues and impair function.
Symptoms of a Spinal Tumor
Some symptoms of spinal tumors are due to the compression of the spinal cord. They may come on gradually, and include:
- Motor problems, including muscle weakness, spasticity, impaired bladder and/or bowel control
- Pain, often severe and constant, that may have a burning or aching quality
- Numbness and decreased skin sensitivity to temperature changes.
Generally speaking, symptoms affect the body at or below the level of the tumor. For instance, a tumor midway along the spinal cord may cause pain throughout the chest area, and a tumor in the lower spine area can cause leg or back pain.
Expert Spinal Tumor Diagnosis
In order to diagnose a spinal tumor, our specialists may order one or more of the following:
- Physical examination to test your movement, reflexes and balance.
- Imaging tests. These tests may include a CT scan, MRI, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (similar to an MRI), chest X-ray, angiogram or positron emission tomography (PET) scan
- Biopsy or a lumbar puncture (often called a “spinal tap”) to obtain a sample of spinal fluid for testing).
Treating Spinal Tumors
Treatment is different for different kinds of tumors, and in many cases a combination of treatments is used. The effectiveness of treatment depends on a number of factors, including the type, size and location of the tumor.
We offer the most advanced spinal tumor treatments available, including:
- Molecular targeted medicines
A computer-controlled radiosurgery system that delivers radiation to tumors with extraordinary accuracy, while avoiding damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
The Cyberknife® robotic radiosurgery system involves no cutting. In fact, the CyberKnife system is the world's first and only robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors throughout the body non-invasively. It provides a pain-free, non-surgical option for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who may be looking for an alternative to surgery.