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Spinal Tumours - Introduction

The word tumour originates from the Latin 'tumour' 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.

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 it and When/What causes this?

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.
The Patient Line website offers information for patients with spinal conditions:
Sciatica, back pain, spinal stenosis, disc herniation, scoliosis and many other spine conditions explained in a clear reliable, and trustworthy way. Not for profit EUROSPINE experts are here to help patients and their families understand what may be worrying them.

EUROSPINE is a society of spine specialists of various disciplines with a large knowledge of spine pathologies. All well-known and accepted treatment modalities for spine pathologies are represented by the members of the society. However, the Society cannot accept any responsibility for the use of the information provided; the user and their health care professionals must retain responsibility for their health care management.
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page last updated on 11.05.2020