Spine Tumours

What are Spine Tumours?

Spine tumours are abnormal growths within or around the spinal or vertebral canal. These tumours can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). They can originate from the spinal cord, nerve roots, bones, and/or spine tissues.

Spine tumours can be primary – originating within the spine, or secondary (metastatic) – spreading from cancer in other parts of the body. As with all diseases, early diagnosis is crucial for appropriate treatment.

 spine cancer
Spine tumours can happen anywhere on the spinal or vertebral canal.

There are three main types of spine tumours based on their location in the spine, these are:

  • Intramedullary tumours: these tumours start growing within the cells of the spinal cord; examples include astrocytoma and ependymoma.
  • Intradural-extramedullary tumours: this tumour accounts for 40% of all spinal tumours; it begins growing outside the spinal cord but inside the dura (covering of the spinal cord). Examples include meningioma (link to service page), schwannoma, and neurofibroma.
  • Extradural tumours: begin growing outside the dura (covering of the spinal cord). Examples include chondroma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing’s sarcoma.

What are the common causes of Spine Tumours in Singapore?

The exact causes of primary spine tumours are not always clear and can vary between individuals. In many cases, the underlying cause remains unknown. Spine tumours can result from genetic mutations or changes in cells' deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), leading to abnormal growth(s).

Secondary spinal tumours occur when cancer in other parts of the body has metastasised and spread to the spinal cord. This happens when the cancer cells break away from the place of origin and travel through the blood or lymphatic system, thus spreading to other parts of the body, including the spine.

What are the symptoms of Spine Tumours?

Symptoms of spine tumours include:

  • Persistent back pain
  • Weakness or numbness in the limbs
  • Changes in bowel or bladder function
  • Difficulty walking
  • Paralysis (severe cases)

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment today.

Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body in a process known as metastasis.

Are Spine Tumours painful?

Yes, one of the main and early symptoms of spine tumours is persistent back pain. The intensity of the pain varies among individuals; it may increase as time passes and may spread to your feet, arms, hips, and legs.

Who is at risk of Spine Tumours in Singapore?

Most spine tumours occur sporadically, often without identifiable reasons for their development. While some risk factors can contribute to these tumours' formation, most spine tumours occur without any known cause.

In Singapore, spine tumours can affect individuals of various ages and backgrounds. While no specific groups of people are exclusively at risk, certain factors may increase the likelihood of developing spine tumours; these risk factors are:

  • Radiation exposure: sometimes radiation is used to treat other types of cancer, such as leukemia. However, this can inadvertently increase an individual’s risk of developing spine tumours.
  • Family history: a family history of brain or spine tumours can increase your risk.
  • Weakened immune system: individuals with a weak immune system are at an increased risk of developing spinal cord or brain lymphoma.
spine pain
Spine pain is characteristic of spine tumours.
MRI spine tumour
MRIs can be used to identify the presence of spinal tumours.

Fortunately, most spine tumours are not cancerous. However, it is still crucial to seek medical attention to determine the nature of your tumour and create an appropriate management or treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

What are the treatment options for Spine Tumours in Singapore?

The treatment options for spine tumours in Singapore vary based on the type, location, and extent of the tumour, and your overall health.

Treatment options for spine tumours include:

  • Surgery: surgical removal of the tumour is the primary treatment, if possible. The goal is to remove as much of the tumour as safely as possible without causing damage to the spinal cord and surrounding structures.
  • Radiation therapy: high-energy radiation targets and shrinks the tumour, particularly for tumours that cannot be completely surgically removed.
  • Chemotherapy: medications administered systemically or directly to the tumour site are used to destroy cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy: some spine tumours may respond to targeted therapies that specifically target the tumour’s molecular features.
  • Pain management: symptomatic treatment may involve pain management techniques to improve the patient’s comfort and quality of life.

Treatment is customised for each patient; this ensures that every patient receives targeted and personalised care.

Frequently asked questions  

Is surgery always required for spine tumours?

No. Surgery may not always be required for spine tumours. The necessity of surgery depends on factors such as the type, size, location, and extent of the tumour.

Are there non-surgical treatment options available for spine tumours?

Yes, there are non-surgical treatment options available for some spine tumours. These options may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and pain management techniques.

How long is the recovery period after spine tumour treatment?

The recovery period after spine tumour treatment varies depending on the type of treatment, the extent of the tumour, and individual factors.

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Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved