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Spinal Tumor

Lower Back, Neck, Upper Back

A spinal tumor is a growth of cells located in or around the spinal cord at any level. The tumor can be cancerous or noncancerous and can cause pain in the affected level as well as neurological problems including numbness or weakness in the arms or legs as well as bowel or bladder dysfunction. Symptoms including fever, chills, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss and nausea and vomiting can also be associated with spinal tumors. The back pain is usually more severe during the night or upon arising and may spread to other parts of your body. Tumors that actually arise from the spine (primary spinal tumors) are rare, and metastasis from a primary site of cancer (secondary) is more commonly the cause. Patients with a history of cancer who have new symptoms of back pain should be evaluated for metastasis to the spine. A spinal tumor can be both life-threatening and cause significant disability and therefore needs prompt evaluation and treatment. MRI, CT, biopsy and myelogram are all useful tools in diagnosing a spinal tumor, and treatment involves monitoring if it is noncancerous, as well as surgery (if the tumor is accessible), radiation therapy, stereotactic radiography, chemotherapy and other medications including corticosteroids.

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