Tumours of the spine can arise from local tissues (primary tumour) or from tumours that have spread to the spine (metastatic tumours).
Another common form of tumour that is found in the spine are the blood cell (myeloid) tumours that include multiple myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia.
Is My Spinal Tumour Benign or Malignant?
Tumours are classified into benign or malignant tumours.
If a tumour does not have the ability to spread outside the tissue in which it arises it is benign.
If the tumour is aggressive and has the potential for spread to other areas or has already spread (metastasized) then it is malignant.
Primary Tumours in the spine
Any cell type can form tumours. In the spine the most common tumours arise from the bone, cartilage or nerve tissue or nerve lining cells.
Metastatic Tumours of the spine
These tumours arise else where in the body and have spread to the spine, most commonly via the blood stream. These are the most common tumours to present in the spine.
The common types of tumours to spread to the spine are Breast, Prostate, Bowel, Kidney, Thyroid, Lung and Melanoma.
Metastatic tumours in the spine are often painful and can lead to fractures or put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves of the cauda equina.
Treatment depends on the type of tumour, the location and size of the tumour and the extent of spread.
Commonly radiotherapy is the first line of treatment unless the stability of the spine is at risk or the tumour is not responsive to radiation.
Surgery can have specific roles to decompress the nerves and provide stability where necessary. Sometimes surgery is required for a diagnosis as tissue samples from needle biopsy are not always adequate.