What Are Spinal Tumours?
The word tumour originates from the Latin 'tumor' meaning swelling. The tumour may be benign or malignant growth. Benign tumours do not cause spread to other organs whereas malignant does. Benign tumours are usually harmless, non- or slow growing masses and usually do not need therapy, unless they cause restriction of motion or function, and/or cause a lot of pain. Malignant tumours are usually aggressive, painful, rapidly growing masses and usually result in more tumour cells appearing in other organs such as the lungs, liver or bone. These secondary tumours are called 'metastases' and usually spread through blood circulation.
Types of Spinal Tumours and Their Origins
Haematogenous tumours can also involve the spine including myeloma or lymphoma. This is mainly a cancer of the bone marrow, and usually affects the vertebral column. Other primary tumours can be of the nerve structures in the spine.
Who Gets Spinal Tumours and What Causes Them?
Primary spinal tumours (those that start only in the spine) are in general extremely rare. According to the type of tumour, different age groups can be affected. Like other bone structures, the vertebral column is most commonly involved with secondary tumours, i.e. metastasis from other organs. This is normally in older patients, rarely under the age of 55-60 years. The common primary tumours include breast, prostate and kidney cancers.