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Treating Back and Spine Tumors

Spine tumors are abnormal growths of tissue found inside the bones of the spinal column. Tumors that originate in the spine are called primary tumors and, most often, must be treated with surgery.  It is essential that these tumors are evaluated and treated correctly the first time, so a spine tumor specialist should be consulted before any biopsy or surgery is performed.

The most common type of tumor that occurs in the spine is a metastasis, which is a tumor that travels to the spine through the blood stream from somewhere else in the body.  A metastatic tumor always comes from cancer originating in another part of the body. This is a malignant tumor and is classified by its location in the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar or sacrum). The types of cancer that most frequently lead to a spine tumor include:

  • lung cancer 
  • breast cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • thyroid cancer
  • kidney cancer 

The most common symptom of a spine tumor is back pain that is not improved by rest. Other symptoms include:

  • sciatica (shooting pain down the leg)
  • numbness
  • partial paralysis
  • spinal deformity
  • difficulty controlling bladder 
  • fever

Unless treated, symptoms will worsen over time and may result in paralysis.

Spinal Tumor Treatment Options

Spinal tumor treatments may include:

  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy
  • stereotactic radiosurgery
  • radiofrequency tumor ablation
  • kyphoplasty
  • surgical removal of the tumor with or without reconstruction of the spine, depending on its type and location