Tumor of the spine - symptoms, causes, types and treatment

To date, a tumor of the spinal cord or spine is a rather rare phenomenon. Often the first symptom of this pathology is acute back pain. But this sign is found in many diseases of internal organs and spine, i.e.is not specific.

Thus, the vast majority of people initially treats a completely different disease( osteochondrosis, pelvic inflammatory disease).And only at the last stages of tumor development, when its size significantly increases, patients get to the neurosurgeon. With such a problem, doctors all over the world are facing. And in the near future it is unlikely to be resolved.

Symptoms of a spine and spinal cord tumor

The very first symptom is always back pain, in the lower or middle part. And it is typical for both malignant and benign spinal tumors. Such pain is greatly enhanced by awakening, and sometimes at night. It rarely irradiates to the hips, legs, hands or feet. The peculiarity of pain is its gradual strengthening, even with adequate treatment.

spinal cord tumor Spinal cord tumor

Symptoms and symptoms directly depend on the type of tumor and its location. They often change due to the growth of the neoplasm. If a malignant tumor of the spine develops, sooner or later completely new symptoms will appear, due to its impact on the bones of the spinal column, blood vessels and nerve roots.

Classical signs of a spinal tumor include:

  • Decrease or total absence of sensitivity;
  • Muscle weakness, mainly in the legs;
  • Paralysis( localization depends on many factors);
  • Disturbance of bladder and intestine;
  • Spinal deformity, more often scoliosis( a sign of a large benign tumor).

The development of the tumor can take place at fairly different rates. If to describe in general, then malignant neoplasms almost always grow very quickly, but benign, on the contrary, can gradually develop over several years, reaching thus huge sizes.

What are the causes of spinal tumors?

At the moment there is no single scientifically based theory that could explain the reasons for the formation of any tumors in the human body. However, it has been proved that there are adverse factors that significantly increase the risk of developing a malignant tumor. These include:

  • Weighed down by heredity;
  • Excess insolation;
  • Some chemical compounds;
  • Ionizing radiation;
  • Smoking.

In cases where tumor cells initially appear in the spinal column, the tumor is called primary. However, this form of pathology is quite rare. In most clinical cases, the damage to the spine is due to the presence of metastases in it, the source of which is malignant neoplasm.

Due to the fact that the vertebral bodies are well-blooded and have a sufficiently branched vasculature, cancer cells are easily transferred with blood flow and eventually settle in the vertebral vessels. There they grow and multiply - a metastasis is formed, gradually destroying bone tissue. It is often accompanied by compression of the nerve roots and the spinal cord itself.

Types of spine tumors and their treatment

All tumors are divided into malignant and benign.

For the latter is not characterized by infiltrating growth, they have a capsule, never metastasize and can not lead to systemic disorders in the patient's body. It is easy enough to get rid of a benign tumor by surgical removal.

The malignant tumor possesses completely other properties, it causes the general infringements in human infringement( absence of appetite, delicacy, growing thin).In the absence of adequate treatment, a malignant tumor always leads to a fatal outcome.

Benign tumors

Osteoid osteoma

Pathology is more common among young people. Osteoid osteoma accounts for 1/10 of all cases of spinal tumors. Almost always it affects the posterior parts of the vertebra. It is characterized by severe back pain, worse at night. To suppress pain, it is recommended to use NSAIDs and( or) aspirin. This kind of tumor is quite difficult to detect on the radiograph, so most often it is found in computed tomography. Treatment is only surgical - removal of the tumor. The forecast is favorable. Almost always there is a complete cure.


Osteoblastoma is an osteoid osteome whose diameter exceeds two centimeters. The symptomatology is similar. Surgical removal of the tumor is recommended. Relapses are rare( 1-2 in 10 cases).

Giant cell tumor

Borderline tumor. Some sources even refer to it as malignant. Although a giant cell tumor can not metastasize, it can germinate into other tissues and organs. It is most common in middle-aged people, rarely in the elderly. Treatment of a spinal tumor in such cases includes "extended resection" - removal along with adjacent healthy tissues. Preliminary chemotherapy is recommended to prevent relapse.

Eosinophilic granuloma

False tumor. It is characterized by damage to the bones by eosinophils, which move along the bloodstream, and then form infiltrates. In addition to the vertebrae, the granuloma can affect other organs and tissues. The disease itself is called eosinophilic granulomatosis."Tumor" gradually destroys the vertebra, which eventually leads to a compression fracture. Treatment is strictly individual. Medication and( or) radiotherapy is often effective. If complications develop, a surgical operation is necessary.


A tumor of cartilage, which at considerable size leads to compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord. A couple of cases are known when the endodroma was transformed into a malignant neoplasm( chondrosarcoma).In the surgical treatment, the prognosis is favorable.


Still advised to read:
Metastases in the spine Prognosis for metastases in the spine

Benign tumor of the spine directly affecting the vertebral body. It can also occur in the brain, skin and liver. It affects, as a rule, only din vertebrae. Women are more prone to this disease. Very often the development of hemangioma passes asymptomatically.

The treatment takes into account the size of the tumor, as well as the presence or absence of complications and pronounced symptoms. With asymptomatic flow, dynamic observation is shown. In all other cases - surgical removal. At the moment, a minimally invasive method( vertebroplasty) is often used. The forecast is favorable.

Malignant tumors


The spine is highly blood-flowing, and its venous plexus is closely related to the veins of the thorax and abdominal cavity. That is why metastasis from internal organs goes mainly to the spine. In most cases, this clinical picture is observed in advanced stages of cancer. All this is accompanied by acute pain in the back.

At this time, complete recovery of metastases in the spine is impossible. Only decompressive-stabilizing operation is performed( an ultrasonic aspirator is used together with powerful microscopes).Drug therapy is aimed at suppressing pain and improving the quality of life. It involves the use of analgesic drugs, as well as radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Plasmacytoma( myeloma)

The most common malignant bone tumor. People who are sick for forty years are ill. It is characterized by a generalization of the process involving other bones. The preferred location of the tumor is the cervical spine. Massive spread of the disease is called myeloma. Treatment is only palliative. However, modern medicine allows such patients to lead a normal life for many years. In the presence of complications, surgical intervention is indicated.


Also common enough pathology. It is observed mainly in adolescents and children, a little less often in the elderly. The combination of modern drug therapy and surgical operations provides a five-year survival of the patient in 3/4 cases.

From all of the above, it is clear that at the present stage the most effective treatment of a benign or malignant tumor of the spine is a surgical operation. But, unfortunately, even this method does not completely avoid the further development of this pathology.

spine tumor on X-ray
  • Symptoms of
  • Reasons for
  • Types of spine tumors