A spine tumor is the growth of an abnormal mass of tissues within or covering the spinal cord, where these cells multiply and grow uncontrollably. The tumor causes pain mainly during standing or sitting, and it usually depicts that the tumor is weakening the bones of the spine.
The Diagnosis: Spinal Tumors are often failed to notice, as the symptoms are of common health issues, and also, the general people do not so commonly know this type of tumor. These factors make it essential for the doctor to see the patient’s complete medical history and perform tests that include both neurological and available physical exams.
The following tests can help to confirm the diagnosis and point out the tumor’s exact location if the doctor suspects it to be a spinal tumor:
Computerized Tomography (CT): A CT scan is seldom used to help diagnose spinal tumors. At times, the CT scan is combined with an injection of contrast dye which makes specific changes in the spinal canal, making it easy to see.
Spinal Magnetic Imaging (MRI): MRI is the most preferred test to diagnose spinal tumors. During the MRI test, the patients are given an injection of a contrast agent into their veins which helps to highlight specific tissues and their structures in the report. Usually, inside the MRI scanner, patients find the thumping sounds disturbing. In case the patient is highly anxious, they should be given a mild sedative to calm them. And in certain situations, a general anesthetic may become necessary.
Biopsy: The exact way to determine the type of the spinal tumor is a biopsy test, where a small tissue sample of the patient is observed under a microscope. The biopsy results help to figure out the preferably best treatment options.
Treatment: The main goal of the spinal tumor’s treatment is to take out the tumors entirely prominently. But the treatment brings along with it the risks of causing certain permanent damages to the spinal cord or the surrounding nerves. The doctors must consider and carefully take into account the patient’s age and overall health condition. The treatment plan should be made by the type of tumor and the place of its origin or whether it had spread to the spine from other parts of the body.
The treatment options for almost all spinal tumors include:
- Monitoring: Often, while evaluating for other health conditions, spinal tumours may be discovered. If the tumors are small and aren’t growing or pressing the tissues, the doctor may probably recommend periodic CT or MRI scans at a definite interval to monitor the growth of the tumour.
- Surgery: With an acceptable risk of damage of the nerve or spinal, the permanent removal of the tumors. The development and modern techniques allow the neurosurgeons to reach the tumors and remove the likely. The new instruments allow distinguishing the tumor from healthy tissue easily. The doctors can also observe the functions of the vital nerves and the spinal cord during the surgery to cause minimal injury. But even with highly modern techniques in medical science, all types of tumors cannot be obliterated. In this case, the surgery may be followed partially by chemotherapy or radiation therapy or, at times, both. Depending on the procedure of surgery, the recovery may take weeks or months. However, the patients may experience a temporary loss of sensation or bleeding and damage to nerve tissues.
- Radiation Therapy: This is mainly used for the removal of the remnants of the tumors after surgery or also to treat the tumors which are too risky to operate on. The side effects of radiation therapy include nausea and vomiting but can be eased with the help of medication. At times, the radiation therapy regimen can also be adjusted to cause minimal damage to healthy tissues.
- Chemotherapy: This is the standard treatment for many types of cancer and can also be used with radiation therapy in spinal tumors.
- Other Drugs: The doctors may, at times, prescribe corticosteroids to reduce the inflammations and swelling caused by these therapies or the tumors themselves during treatments or after completion of surgery.
Discovering that the patient has a spine tumor can be pretty stressful and disturbing for the patient. But with proper care, the anxiety can be appropriately dealt with. The patient, along with friends or family members, should find out the details of the type of spine tumor they have got, from the doctor, so that the treatment decisions can be quickly taken. With the proper support from family and friends, the patient can confidently deal with this health issue. Engaging in relaxing activities like maintaining a journal or listening to soothing music can also be helpful for patients with spine tumors. You should follow the instructions given by your doctor to get proper relief from the pain in the spine tumors.