The spine is the central support structure of the body. It is a long bony structure extending from the brainstem to the sacrum. It encloses a thick band of nerves transmitting motor and sensory signals from the brain to the body and vice versa. Any abnormal tissue growth or tumor in this band is called the spinal cord tumor. They may have originated inside the spinal cord (primary) or may have metastasized from any cancer of any other body part (secondary). These tumors may affect the functioning of the body in different ways depending on their type, location, and size. They may have mild effects and may also cause serious disabilities.
These tumors can be treated by various surgical and non-surgical treatment options explained briefly by the best neurosurgeon Dr. Kalyan Bommakanti in this article:
Tumors that are non-progressing, asymptomatic, or have mild symptoms can be monitored regularly through MRIs. The treatment options depend upon the requirement and the goal. There are various nonsurgical treatment options available in order to treat these tumors including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and observation. Some tumors respond well to chemotherapy while others respond to radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is mostly used after the surgery in order to remove any remnants, however, it can also be used in cases where surgery is very risky.
Chemotherapy is used to destroy the cancer cells and restrict them from further abnormal growth. It may be used alone or in combination with radiation therapy. However, chemotherapy accompanies a variety of side effects such as nausea, hair loss, vomiting, and fatigability.
Along with these treatments, a number of oral medications are also prescribed in order to overcome the side effects and inflammation caused by these. These drugs are mostly corticosteroids or NSAIDs for pain relief.
Surgical options are opted when the tumor can’t be treated by chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The indications for surgery depend on the type of the tumor and the expected damage it can cause mainly due to spinal cord compression. The main goal is to completely remove the tumor, but there is a risk that may compromise some other nerves. Advanced technologies have made it possible to cure tumors that were once considered incurable that too through minimal invasion. If any of the tumors is still left after the surgery, the treatment is continued with chemotherapy or radiation, or both. It takes some time to recover after the surgery, usually, physical therapy helps the patient to preserve the benefits of the surgery and restore his functional and neurological functions.