A benign or cancerous spine tumor may be the reason for back pain that’s combined with other symptoms, including muscle weakness or numbness felt in the arms or legs and difficulty walking. When detected early, spine cancer can often be treated successfully.
Early Detection and Diagnosis
The first step in treating spine cancer is confirming the presence of a tumor. Once found, additional tests will determine the type of tumor it is, whether it’s benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), and how aggressively it’s developing. The diagnosis and evaluation process also includes:
- A thorough medical examination that includes medical history
- MRI and CT scans to determine if there are other spinal growths
- An evaluation of other organs where cancer may develop
Non-Cancerous, Slow-Growing Tumors
The usual course of action with spine cancer is to remove the tumor and preserve or restore the integrity of the spine. However, removal may not be recommended right away if the tumor is non-cancerous and growing at a slow rate. If this is the case, periodic monitoring is likely to be recommended.
Less Risky Removal Surgery
The decision to remove a tumor depends on whether or not it’s cancerous and how it’s affecting the patient. Even non-cancerous tumors on the spine may place pressure on nerves. Advances in surgical techniques, including better visualization, have made the removal process safer. Spine surgeons in Los Angeles can also use electrodes to test nerves during surgery to minimize the risk of unintended nerve damage.
Radiation therapy is used to treat tumors considered inoperable because of size and location on the spine or when spine surgery is deemed too risky for the patient. Radiation therapy is less problematic today due to an ability to deliver high doses of radiation to a very targeted location to shrink or destroy the tumor without harming healthy tissue.
Spine cancer is considered rare, with only one person in 100,000 receiving a diagnosis for the condition each year. Regardless, any lingering pain in the back area that’s coupled with unusual symptoms such as difficulty with coordination should be further evaluated to pinpoint, or at least rule out, possible sources.
If you’ve got undiagnosed back pain, it’s time to make an appointment with a qualified spine surgeon in Los Angeles. Reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery, spinal fusions, and non-fusion spine surgeries. Your path to a pain-free life begins here.