Primary & Metastatic Spinal Tumor

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Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors Treatment

What are Spinal Tumors?

Most tumors that start to grow outside of the nervous system can travel to the area surrounding the spine. These tumors can travel to the spinal bones, or vertebrae (location noted with names such as T3 or T4).

Symptoms of Spine Cancer

One symptom of spine cancer is pain, and occasionally, collapse of the vertebrae. These tumors also can affect the soft tissues and spaces surrounding the spine (the epidural space). They can compress the spinal cord or the spinal nerves, which may cause pain, paralysis, sensory loss and/or loss of bowel or bladder control.

Treatment Options for Spine Cancer

If you are diagnosed with spine cancer, your prognosis depends on several factors. Treatment decisions are based on the type of tumor, number of tumors and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

While surgery on the spine is usually considered as initial treatment, the surgeon does not want to cause permanent nerve damage. Sophisticated technology, including laser surgery to break up the tumor, allows surgeons to reach tumors in difficult locations. Surgery is often performed on tumors that previously did not respond to radiation therapy. On patients who were not previously treated, surgery may be followed by radiation therapy.

For patients who cannot tolerate surgery or whose cancer has spread to the spine (and less operable), radiation therapy will be used to treat the tumor. It also may be used to relieve pain — a common symptom of spine cancer. Chemotherapy is generally not effective treatment for patients with spinal cancer.

For more information about treatment for spinal tumors, brain tumors and other neurological cancers at Fox Chase Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-888-FOX CHASE (1-888-369-2427).