The spine is an integral part of your body which adds significant value to your physical personality. But due to some unfavourable health conditions, your spine is vulnerable to certain diseases. A spinal tumour is one such dangerous condition which causes disabling pain, damages the nerves or spinal cord, and finally leads to paralysis if they don’t get early treatment.
Providing the best possible treatments for spinal tumours and taking care of your spine is what we aim at, and Dr. Surya Prakash Voleti, the best and experienced Spine Surgeon who can deliver promising results. He will provide a piece of detailed information about spinal cord tumours and guide you towards the best possible treatment. However, let’s have a glance look at these spinal cord tumours.
What is a spinal cord tumour?
A spinal tumour is an abnormal mass of tissue that develops within the spinal canal or in the bones of your spine, or some times form the substance within the spinal cord also called an intradural tumour. The cells of the tumour grow faster than normal cells and increases in size. As a result, it damages your spine.
Typically, these tumours will begin in the bone or dura (the covering layer of the spinal cord) or within the spinal cord itself. The bony tumors are also known as a vertebral tumour. However, there are different types of tumours, and they are classified based on the area it occurs. Vertebral tumors can arise from deposits form the known or unknown primary tumors or cancers and these are called metastasis. In some clinical situations, Metastatic tumors may present earlier than the primary tumors.
Different Types of Spinal Cord Tumours
Spinal cord tumours are categorised into various types based on their nature and area they develop, which include vertebral column tumours, intradural-extramedullary tumours, intramedullary, and extradural tumours.
Vertebral Column Tumours
These tumours are of two types which include primary tumours, and secondary tumours or Metastatic tumours.
These type of tumours develop in the vertebral column. They can be benign or malignant tumors. Benign tumors are more common than malignant tumors. They grow in the bone or disc elements in your spine. Primary tumours are typically seen in younger adults. Osteoblastoma, Aneurysmal bone cyst, Osteoid Osteoma, Giant cell tumor are some of the common benign tumors of the spine.
Osteoid osteoma: It is a non-cancerous bone tumor which arises from osteoblasts(the cells which form new bone). It was thought to be osteoblastoma’s smaller version. It is more prevalent in children and young adults. The size of osteoid osteomas may less than 1.5 cm. It is more common in long bones like femur and tibia in your body. However, these tumors can occur in any bony part of your body inluding spine.
Osteo chondroma: Osteochondroma is the most common benign bone tumor, and it accounts for 36% of all benign bone tumors. It is often seen in long bones. Studies say that osteochondroma spinal tumours are relatively rare and account for just 4% to 7% of all primary benign spinal tumors. Often, it mostly occurs in people of age between 10 and 30.
Osteoblastoma: It is a slow-growing non-cancerous bone tumor that destroys the healthy bone and results in the formation of an abnormal bone material around the healthy spine called osteoid. It rarely affects the spine that appears in people of age between 10 and 30. It is more commonly occur in men than in women.
Aneurysmal bone cyst: The aneurysmal bone cyst (ABC) is a benign tumor that is described as “an expanding lesion that consists of blood-filled spaces separated by connective tissue septa that consist of bone trabeculae or osteoid tissue, macrophages, giant osteoclast cells, capillaries, and fibroblasts. Primary ABCs accounts for 1.4% of primary bone tumors. The treatments of choice to deal with ABC tumours are surgery and bone chip packing or sometimes polymethylmethacrylate injection.
Giant cell tumor: A giant cell tumor (GCT) is a non-cancerous or benign bone tumor that develops near the bone joints of your knees, wrist, shoulder and spine. GCTs can occur anywhere on the spine, such as the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, or the sacrum. GCTs of the spine are a rare but most destructive type of benign tumours.
Eosinophilic granuloma: Eosinophilic granuloma (EG) is a type of non-cancerous or benign bone tumor. It is more prevalent in adults. Usually, it found to occur more in flat and long bones. However, the spine is also vulnerable to EG. It is of unknown aetiology, and the origin of the disease is too unpredictable. I presents in children as vertebra plana.( flat compressed vertebral body)
The malignant tumors like Osteosarcoma, Ewing Sarcoma, Chondroblastoma, Chordoma are rare and carry not a very good prognosis.
Secondary Tumours: These type of tumours often spread to the spine due to cancers that occur in another area in your body. These tumours may result in intense pain that might become worse at night time. These tumours are often accompanied by a severe illness like weight loss, fever/chills, vomitings, etc.
- In women, these types of spinal tumours mostly spread due to cancer that originates in the breast or lung.
- In men, these types of spinal tumours mostly spread due to cancer that originates in the prostate or lung.
Intradural – Extramedullary Tumours
Intradural – Extramedullary means inside the dura, i.e. the tumours that develop within the spinal cord’s arachnoid membrane (the membrane which covers your spinal cord) but outside of the nerves and are called as Meningiomas.
Meningiomas: These type of tumours develop in the surrounding membranes of the spinal cord called meninges that usually occurs in the upper portion of your back. They are more commonly observed in middle-aged and older women.
Nerve sheath tumours develop from the nerve roots which come out from the spinal cord or at the base of the spinal cord. Schwannomas and Neurofibromas are the common nerve sheath tumours seen in most of the people. Usually, these type tumours are benign, which grow slowly. However, sometimes they may result in the malignant tumour over time.
Neurofibroma: A neurofibroma is a type of nerve tumour that forms soft bumps on or under the skin which protects your spinal cord and nerves. A neurofibroma tends to develop anywhere in your body within a major or minor nerve. Usually, these are benign type and might turn to malignant rarely.
Schwannoma: It is a type of nerve tumour that develops from Schwann cells. The cells generate an element which insulates the nerves and mostly develops outside the spinal cord.
Mostly these types of tumour are non-cancerous(benign). Peripheral nerve tumour in adults is the most common type of tumour which can occur at any age and anywhere in your body.
Intramedullary Spinal Tumours develop inside the spinal cord or on the individual nerves. Frequently, they grow in the cervical spine area(neck region). Relatively they occur rarely compared to other tumours. It begins from the glial or ependymal cells – the cells that provide required physical support and insulation for your system nervous system. Often, they tend to benign tumours but quite difficult to remove and often have a poor prognosis.
Some of the common types of intramedullary tumours include:
Ependymoma: It is a common type of tumour that develops in the brain or spinal cord. It begins in the ependyma, a tissue of the central nervous system. Ependymoma can develop in anyone irrespective of age. However, often, it is observed in young children.
Astrocytoma: It is the most common type of glioma tumour. Mostly it arises from astrocytes – star-shaped cells located in your spinal cord. These are a rare type of tumours and can occur in both adult and pediatric populations. Astrocytes cells help the nerves of the spine to function properly. It is most prevalent in children.
Hemangioblastoma: A hemangioblastoma is a type of benign vascular tumour located along the spine. These are a rare type of spinal tumours that can occur anywhere in the spinal cord and account for 3% of all spinal tumours.
Glioma: These types of tumours can develop in the brain and spinal cord. They develop from the glial cells surrounding your nerve cells which help them function properly.
Extradural tumours grow within the spine but outside of the dura (the sac that holds your spinal cord, nerve roots and spinal fluid). These spine tumours are many times due to metastasis and have their origins from breast, kidney, lung or prostate cancer or some other primary.
Some other spinal tumours like chordoma, Myxopapillary Ependymoma which is rare and can damage your spinal cord or the nerve roots or bones of your spine etc. In some cases, the nerves which are damaged due to tumours may be permanent.
Usually, doctors recommend surgery for the patients suffering from primary tumours or the non-cancerous ones. A surgical treatment to treat spinal tumours is known to be a successful measure. Unfortunately, other cancerous tumours that spread from different parts of the body to the spine could be difficult or even impossible to remove. Sometimes also they get removed; definitely, there will be some damage that might happen to your spinal cord.
They may cause functional disabilities for the rest of your life. To ensure timely treatment consulting the best doctor like Dr. Surya Prakash Voleti, one of the best spine surgeons in Hyderabad is the first step. For more information or if you have any spine problems, make an appointment for best treatment options.