What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Cancer?

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The common signs and symptoms of cancer in the spine include pain, muscle weakness, numbness in the legs or arms, general loss of sensation and difficulty walking, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Incontinence, bowel retention, paralysis, spinal deformities and difficulty or pain with standing are also symptoms.

The signs and symptoms experienced depend on several factors, including the size, location, extent and type of the tumor, reports the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. A patient’s health history and age can also play a role in which experiences are symptomatic of spinal cancer. Symptoms may occur gradually over time, or they may begin in just a matter of days or even hours. When tumors progress beyond the spine to other locations throughout the body, progression can occur rapidly.

When the tumor can be removed successfully from the spine without damage to the nerves or spinal cord, surgery is a treatment option, advises Mayo Clinic. As of 2015, surgical equipment allows surgeons to reach tumors that were once considered unreachable. When surgery is not an option, doctors may use radiation to kill off cancer cells in the spine. They sometimes also used radiation in conjunction with surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be part of a spinal cancer treatment plan to eradicate cancer cells, either on its own, with radiation or with surgery.