Tumors that affect the spine may occur either locally from the structures of the spine, (primary tumors) or they span to the spine from any where in the body. When the tumors are found away from the actual cancerous growth, these tumors are called secondary or metastatic tumours. The main reasons as to why tumors occur are not so far recognized with any certainty. It is also not clear why few tumors are benign and others malignant in nature. Unlike lung cancer, in which there is a strong connection with smoking, it is not convincible to locate clear risk factors for the growth of spinal tumors.
Any section of the spine can be affected by tumours. Bone tumors are the most common type and these are usually secondary deposits from tumors starting elsewhere in the body. Tumors can take place in the spinal canal, outside the dura (membrane), enveloping the spinal canal and nerve roots (extradural and epidural). They can be within the dura (intradural), and very rarely they may occur inside the spinal cord (intramedullary).
There are three main treatments:
- Surgical treatment
Non-invasive treatments include:
- Occupational therapy
- Bladder and bowel management
- Social services
Tumours do not necessarily need any treatment; it is when they compromise the health or integrity of the surrounding tissue or structures that will determine whether intervention is required.