The spinal cord is the organ that is part of the central nervous system, which lies in the bone structure called the spine, which extends from the neck to the forehead, and includes a channel across the middle. Cancer in the spinal cord is called spinal cord cancer. Tumors may also occur in the spinal cord. Cancers that start in different organs can spread to the spine, that is, metastasize to the spinal cancers.
Spinal cord tumors are caused by the spinal cord itself, the membrane and surrounding tissue, bone tissue, spine.
What are the Symptoms of Spinal Cord Cancer and Spinal Cord Tumor?
Depending on the location and type of tumor in the spine; especially when the tumor grows and affects the spinal cord, surrounding nerves or blood vessels, different symptoms may develop. Symptoms of tumors affecting the spine include:
- Severe waist and back pains
- Spinal curvature
- Urinary incontinence
- In some parts of the body weakness
- Difficulty in walking
- Loss of sensation or muscle weakness, especially in arms or legs
- Balance problem
- Blurred or double vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Back pain from the hip, leg, foot, arm, or other areas
- Low back pain at night
- Loss of bowel or bladder function
- Mild to severe muscle weakness in different parts of the body
- Pain in the tumor area due to tumor development
- Erection problems
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
Which Doctorate / Section for Spinal Cord Cancer?
For spinal cord cancer go to the Department of Neurosurgery.
Spinal Cord Cancer Causes Spinal Tumor?
Although the exact cause of spinal cord cancer is not known, it is known that some factors increase the risk of developing spinal cord cancer. These are the following;
Genetic factors increase the risk of developing spinal cord cancer.
The risk of spinal cord cancer is increasing in people with risk factors. Persons with risk factors include:
- Cancer patients with a potential to spread to bones such as breast, lung or prostate cancer
- People with immune suppression or weakness
- Von Hippel Lindau syndrome or neurofibromatosis
- Exposure to industrial chemicals
How is spinal cord cancer diagnosed?
The initial diagnosis of spinal cord cancer is neurological examination. Doctors; It is usually performed neurological examination to diagnose the spinal cord tumor. The following facts are examined in this examination:
- Pain in the spine
- Pain, heat or cold numbing
- Abnormal reflex response
- This neurological examination was performed; help the doctor to recognize the spinal cord tumor present in the spine and to learn more about:
- Spinal imaging tests such as a CT scan using X-ray light, MRI or myelogram, with a contrast dye injection to the spine for better visibility of the tumor
- Hormone tests
- Biopsy (removal and examination of tumor fragments)
- Investigation of cells in the cerebrospinal fluid and fluid
How is spinal cord cancer treated?
The treatment for spinal cord cancer varies from person to person; The location of the tumor depends on the type and the general health of the patient. Treatment methods available include:
- Surgical intervention to remove a tumor or part of the tumor (surgery)
- Radiation therapy, sometimes used in addition to surgery
- Corticosteroids to reduce swelling
- For some spinal cord tumors, the entire spine must receive radiation. This application called craniospinal radiation; The patient may cause anemia and other side effects. When radiation is applied to the lumbar spine; fertility should be considered.
Spinal Cord Cancer Treatment Methods
If the patient; if spinal cord cancer is seen to exert pressure on the nerves; high dose dexamethasone and similar corticosteroid drugs are given to the cancerous tissue by injection. This method prevents the pressure and swelling of the spine.
Most of them are operated on spinal cord cancer. But surgery also includes risks. For this reason, caution should be exercised when deciding on surgery for spinal cord cancer. Surgery is required if the following conditions occur:
- If spinal cord cancer is spreading
- Cancer is only in one area
- If the limits of cancer are significant
- If the symptoms of the disease are severe and other treatments do not result
The purpose of surgery for spinal cord cancer increases the quality of life of the patient. Therefore, the whole and part of the cancerous tissue in the patient’s body is taken and:
Pain and pressure in the spinal cord are prevented.
The patient with spinal cord cancer receives control of the bowel, bladder and muscle movements in the affected area.
Radiation therapy, also known as beam therapy; cancer cells in the body using rays are destroyed. Due to the risks of the surgery, radiation therapy is applied on the patient and the cancer is reduced.
Chemotherapy; is a type of intensive drug therapy used in cancer patients. The purpose of this treatment; to prevent proliferation of cancer cells. This treatment; In patients with cancer of the spinal cord, the cancer is spread over the body and radiation therapy is not effective.
What is the Life Time of Spinal Cord Cancer?
When the treatment begins, the average life span of the spinal cord cancer is up to 40%. In some cases; depending on the location, type and course of the cancer, this rate can be as low as 8% and in some cases up to 84%.