The most common indicator of spinal cancer is pain in the neck or back that worsens over time. Spinal tumors are caused by uncontrolled cell growth, and because there is only a small amount of space in the spinal canal, a spinal tumor can press on the spinal cord or other neural tissue. This can cause pain or neurological symptoms, such as numbness or weakness in the extremities or chest area, difficulty walking or standing, loss of sensation throughout the body and a loss of bladder or bowel control.
How is spinal cancer diagnosed?
If a person is showing symptoms of spinal cancer, they should promptly schedule an appointment with a physician who can help them arrive at a diagnosis. There are several diagnostic methods that are commonly used to confirm or rule out the presence of a spinal tumor. These include:
- Medical imaging tests
- Neurological exams
- Spinal tap procedures
- Surgical or open biopsy
- Liquid molecular biopsy
- Next-generation sequencing
Spinal cancer diagnostic and treatment services at Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Neuro-Oncology Program offers streamlined diagnostic services for patients showing symptoms of spinal cancer. If cancer is found, our multispecialty team will ensure each new patient receives an individualized treatment plan. Treatment for patients with spinal cancer often include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or biological response modifiers. Eligible patients may also have the opportunity to participate in one of our clinical trials. We remain committed to advancing spinal cancer research and treatment and will not be satisfied until there is a cure for all. Our ambitious research initiatives have led to Moffitt being named a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, and we are the only such center based in Florida.