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Spinal Cord Tumors: Understanding, Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Spinal cord tumors are abnormal growths that develop within the spinal cord or its surrounding tissues. They can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain, paralysis, and even death. It is important to understand what spinal cord tumors are, what causes them, and what treatment options are available.

Understanding Spinal Cord Tumors

The spinal cord is a long, delicate structure that runs from the base of the brain down to the lower back. It is responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body. When a tumor develops within the spinal cord or its surrounding tissues, it can disrupt these signals and cause a wide range of symptoms.

There are two main types of spinal cord tumors: benign and malignant. Benign tumors are not cancerous and are typically slow-growing. They often do not spread to other parts of the body and can usually be removed with surgery. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, are cancerous and can spread quickly to other parts of the body. They are often more aggressive and difficult to treat.

Causes of Spinal Cord Tumors

The exact cause of spinal cord tumors is not known. However, there are several factors that may increase the risk of developing a spinal cord tumor, including:

1. Age: Spinal cord tumors are more common in older adults.

2. Genetics: Some genetic conditions, such as neurofibromatosis, increase the risk of developing spinal cord tumors.

3. Exposure to radiation: Exposure to high doses of radiation can increase the risk of developing spinal cord tumors.

4. Personal history of cancer: People who have had cancer in the past are at a higher risk of developing spinal cord tumors.

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5 Symptoms of Spinal Cord Tumors

The symptoms of spinal cord tumors vary depending on the size and location of the tumor. Some common symptoms include:

1. Back pain: This is one of the most common symptoms of spinal cord tumors. The pain may be constant or may come and go.

2. Weakness: Spinal cord tumors can cause weakness in the arms, legs, or both.

3. Numbness: The tumor can put pressure on the nerves, causing numbness in the arms, legs, or both.

4. Paralysis: In severe cases, spinal cord tumors can cause paralysis.

5. Loss of bladder or bowel control: This is a rare symptom, but can occur in severe cases.

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Treatment Options for Spinal Cord Tumors

The treatment for spinal cord tumors depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor, as well as the patient's overall health. Some common treatments include:

Surgery: Surgery is often the first line of treatment for spinal cord tumors. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a type of drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with other treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy.

Stereotactic radiosurgery: This is a type of radiation therapy that uses highly focused beams of radiation to kill cancer cells. It is often used for smaller tumors that are difficult to remove with surgery.

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