Personalized treatments for people with back pain and spine disorders
Published: Sept. 29, 2010
Updated: Nov. 17, 2010
Primary and metastatic tumors can involve the spinal column at any level.
Metastatic tumors are far more common than primary tumors of the spinal column. The most common sources of metastatic tumors are breast, lung, and prostate cancers; although any cancer type can spread to the spine.
Primary tumors of the spinal column are less common and can also occur at any level of the spine. Common primary spinal column tumors include osteoblastomas, aneurismal bone cysts, giant cell tumors, chordomas, and osteosarcomas.
The cause of most spinal column tumors is unknown. Some metastatic tumors may have a familial component, such as breast cancer. Many of the genes that play a role in the development of some primary tumors are just being discovered.
Spinal tumors typically present with pain that may be worse at night. Pain can occur primarily in the low back or radiate into the arms or legs.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination to determine whether or not you have clinical symptoms indicative of a tumor of the spinal column. A number of diagnostic studies can also help make the diagnosis. These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, myelograms, bone scans, PET scans, and a biopsy.
The treatment for spinal column tumors depends on the tumor type, location, and associated symptoms. Radiation therapy alone or in conjunction with therapy may be needed.
The team of experts at the Duke Spine Center and the Duke Cancer Center will work to determine the optimal strategy to treat your tumor and speed your recovery.