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Spinal Tumor: What You Need to Know

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To find out more about neuroscience care and treatment at the Cottage Health's Neuroscience Institute (SBNI), or to request an appointment, please call our neuroscience care center at 1-844-282-7246.

Each year, about 10,000 Americans develop a spinal tumor—an unusual mass of tissue in or around the spine.

Causes of Spinal Tumors

Scientists are still trying to determine what causes spinal tumors. What they do know is that you face a higher risk of spinal tumors if you:

Types of Spinal Tumors

Choose the Santa Barbara Neuroscience Institute (SBNI) at Cottage Health for diagnosis and treatment of all types of spinal tumors.

Vertebral Column Tumors

Vertebral column tumors occur in the bone or cartilage of your spine and usually appear in younger adults. These tumors often spread from the lung, breast or prostate. Symptoms include:

  • Back or neck pain that doesn’t get better with rest and worsens at night
  • Fever/chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss

Treatment may involve:

Intradural-Extramedullary Tumors

Intradural-extramedullary tumors appear in the dura, your spinal cord’s covering. They are usually benign and slow growing. Symptoms include:

  • Back or neck pain that doesn’t get better with rest and worsens at night
  • A change in bowel or bladder habits
  • Severe pain when the area of your tumor is compressed
  • Weak or numb arms or legs

A skilled Cottage Health neurosurgeon can remove your tumor. You may need radiation therapy afterward to kill any remaining tumor cells and stop the unusual growth from returning.

Intramedullary Tumors

Intramedullary tumors occur inside the spinal cord and are usually benign. If you have an intramedullary tumor, you may notice:

  • Back or neck pain that doesn’t get better with rest and worsens at night
  • A change in bowel or bladder habits
  • Severe pain when the area of your tumor is compressed
  • Weak or numb arms or legs

A skilled Cottage Health neurosurgeon can remove your tumor. You may need radiation therapy afterward to kill any remaining tumor cells and stop the unusual growth from returning.

Diagnosing Spinal Tumors

After you experience symptoms of a spinal tumor, your doctor will do a neurological exam that checks your:

  • Alertness
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Eye and mouth movement
  • Muscle strength
  • Reflexes
  • Vision

If your results are abnormal, your physician may refer you to a neurologist at the Santa Barbara Neuroscience Institute at Cottage Health for additional tests, including imaging procedures or a biopsy.

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