Spinal cord tumors can be a deadly diagnosis.
Along with brain tumors, they are the deadliest form of tumor. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 23,000 people will be diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor in the U.S. in 2017.
Not all of these tumors are cancerous,but getting them checked is essential.
As with any type of cancer, early detection is the key to treatment, and ultimately, to survival.
Regular medical examinations are important. Knowing the symptoms and signs of a spinal cord tumor can also help with early detection.
What are the symptoms of spinal cord tumors?
One of the hardest parts about detecting these tumors is how varied the symptoms can be.
The symptoms that a patient will experience largely depend on where the tumor is located on the spine. How close the tumor is located to blood vessels and nerves, the size of the tumor, and how long it has been developing can affect symptoms as well.
Some of the earliest symptoms of spinal cord tumors are back pain and pain in the arms, legs, hips, and feet.
If the tumor is located on nerves, the patient may experience loss of sensation and decreased sensitivity.
Muscle weakness is also a common symptom, especially as the tumor grows. This can cause instability and trouble walking over time.
Other symptoms include loss of bowel function, spinal deformities, and paralysis.
How do you know when you should see a doctor?
Back pain can be the result of many problems. This can make it tough to figure out whether your back pain may be the result of a spinal cord tumor.
But abnormal back pain is always a cause for concern. If you notice that your back pain continues even after you’ve laid down in bed for the night, it could be the result of a tumor. Or, if your back pain doesn’t appear to be related to your activity levels, you should see a doctor right away.
If you experience persistent back pain, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor who can try to determine a cause.
If you notice any muscle weakness or changes in your bowel function, you should see a doctor immediately.
Patients who have a history of cancer should be especially alert to any possible symptoms.
Who is at risk of spinal cord tumors?
These tumors have many causes. Some people are more at risk than others for developing tumors.
For instance, those with a history of cancer or other hereditary conditions like Von Hippel-Lindau disease or Neurofibromatosis are more likely to develop tumors.
Anyone with a compromised immune system is also at an increased risk.
Exposure to chemicals from certain industries or from radiation treatments can also cause tumors.
If you have exhibited any of the above symptoms of spinal cord tumors, it may be time to see your doctor. The experts at Executive Spine Surgery can help.
Tumors can be serious. But with early detection and treatment, removal and recovery is always a possibility.