Spinal cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects your spinal column. It can impact people of all ages, but it is more commonly found in older adults. Spinal cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow and multiply uncontrollably in your spinal cord, including the surrounding nerves and bones in your spine. The difficulty with spinal cancer is that symptoms can vary depending on a number of factors. The location of the tumor, the size of the tumor, in addition to how long it has been there. Early detection is key when it comes to your prognosis, so it’s important to know the spinal cancer risks in patients can vary.
Spinal Cancer Risks in Patients
The exact cause of spinal cancer is unclear. Researchers hypothesize that there are certain things that can increase your risk, including genetic conditions. Due to the complexity of spinal cancer, the risk factors are not fully known. Lifestyle factors play a huge role in a number of different cancers, so that is important to consider. Lifestyle factors include things like your diet, physical activity, weight, smoking, and drinking habits. These are often seen as influential when it comes to your risk for cancer but are not necessarily risk factors specific to spinal cancer.
Medical experts believe that there are certain factors that can place you at a higher risk. However, these theories are not conclusive. Exposure to high levels of radiation (especially during childhood), a family history of cancer, and a weakened immune system due to congenital conditions or treatments for other cancers are all associated with an increased risk for spinal cancer. If you are concerned that you may be at high risk, it’s important to contact a medical professional. They can assess your risk and provide you with more information about certain preventive measures you can take.
Symptoms of Spinal Cancer
The symptoms associated with spinal cancer can vary. This is because the location and size of the tumor can result in a variety of different symptoms. If you experience any of the following, contact a medical professional for support right away.
- Back pain (that gets worse at night and improves during the day)
- Difficulty walking
- Sensory issues
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty balancing
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness in your legs or arms
If these symptoms continue or get worse, it is important to contact a professional. This is because worsening symptoms indicate that the tumor is impacting the nerves in your spine. Your spine is long and the tumor can impact a number of areas, including your cervical spine (around your neck), thoracic spine (upper back area), lumbar (lower back area), or sacrum (the lowest part of your spine).
A spine surgeon can effectively determine if you have spinal cancer, the location of the tumor, and what treatment options are right for you. Early detection and spine tumors treatment are critical for improving your condition, ensuring your long-term health and quality of life, and increasing your chances of survival. The type of treatment depends on the severity of the cancer and your current health. If you are at high risk for spinal cancer or experience any of the symptoms associated with it, it’s important to work closely with a medical professional to ensure your long-term health.
Diagnosing Spinal Cancer
A medical provider will perform a physical examination on your back to determine if there is a possibility you may have spinal cancer. They may also perform certain tests to assess your neurological function. If a medical professional thinks you may have spinal cancer, they will schedule additional testing. This can include blood tests, imaging, a biopsy, or a bone scan. If the results show that you have spinal cancer, a treatment plan will be created for you and is necessary for your long-term health.