Spinal tumor (can be called neoplasm as well) cells do increase in amount and a tumor is irregular growth of tissue. Tumors in the spine are either cancer causing (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). There is a chance that tumors can extend in various parts of the spine which includes cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back), lumbar (low back), and/or sacral (sacrum). Another term for tumor that has spread is metastasis (new irregular growth) and the potential for tumor metastasis is possibly in various areas of the spine or exterior of the spine which includes the breast of the lung. There are instances where cancer in the spine develops from a tumor origin in prostate, kidney or lung.
Primary tumor- tumors that initiate in the spine and no one is sure of the exact cause.
Secondary tumors- tumors that begin in another part of the body and metastasize to the spine.
Spinal tumor can start presenting as pain. In addition to a history and a physical which would include a neurological examination it is very important to order diagnostic tests. During your visit to the Doctor a CT (computerized tomography) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or PET scan (positron emission tomography) could be prearranged. A microscopically examined sample (biopsy) allows to diagnosed a type of tumor and the stage of the cancer as well as other studies performed if there are positive findings which all depends on where the tumor is and the type of tumor.
There are treatment choices which include monitoring the growth and changes in the size- growth of the tumor with CT or MRI studies, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or stereotactic radiosurgery. This depends of course on the size of the tumor, where it is located and the symptoms.