Tumors can form in and around the nerve tissue of the body’s nervous system – the brain and spine – growing as abnormal masses of tissue. The type of tumor depends on the location in the nervous system, and whether it is a cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign) tumor.
There are more than 120 types of brain and central nervous system tumors. Brain and spinal cord tumors vary from person to person: tumors form in various areas and develop from different cell types, meaning treatment options are different for everyone.
The Central Nervous System (CNS) comprises the brain and the spinal cord. The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) comprises the nerves and ganglia (tissue mass) outside the brain and the spinal cord.
A primary tumor is when the mass of cells originates in the brain or spine. Not all primary brain tumors are cancerous. Benign tumors (non-cancerous) are not aggressive and normally do not spread to surrounding tissues. Malignant tumors are cancerous and are typically more aggressive and spread fast to surrounding tissue.
Metastatic tumors, also known as secondary tumors, typically start elsewhere in the body, such as a lung or breast, and spread to the brain and spine. These tumors are more common than primary tumors.
Regardless of the tumor type, in these sensitive areas, even benign brain or spine tumors can seriously affect important functions of the body. The pressure caused by the tissue mass can cause general symptoms, or symptoms very specific to the area it is affecting.
Although brain and spine tumors are rare, serious symptoms should not be overlooked. Below we list the signs to look for, which can help detect a brain or spine tumor early.
If you or someone you know presents several of the listed symptoms, it is important to contact a physician.
A brain tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue within or surrounding the brain. These cells grow and multiply uncontrollably, seemingly unchecked by the mechanisms that control normal cells.
The progress in outcomes over the past 20 years has been remarkable, and advances in brain surgery have led to a radical improvement in survival rates.
Today, researchers have begun to elucidate the molecular and genetic causes of these tumors. However, current treatment and prognosis for recovery depends on several factors, including the type of tumor, its location, and the general health of the patient.
A spinal tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue that forms within or surrounding the spinal cord and spinal column. Spine tumors are sometimes overlooked because they are rare, and the symptoms are common for several other issues.
While benign tumors tend to stay within the spinal cord, malignant tumors may travel to or from other areas of the body, making these types of tumors more difficult to treat.
A small number of spinal tumors occur in the nerves of the spinal cord. Most often these are ependymomas (tumor of tissue from the central nervous system) and other gliomas (brain or spine tumor composed of glial cells).
Tumors that start in spinal tissue are called primary spinal tumors and tumors that spread to the spine from some other place (metastasis) are called secondary spinal tumors. Tumors may spread to the spine from the breast, prostate, lung, and other areas.
Some tumors initially have no symptoms, and may not be noticed until they are large and quick to cause damage. Other brain tumors result in slow developing symptoms.
Brain tumor symptoms vary according to the type, size and location of the tumor. Location has an impact because different parts of the brain control different body functions.
In addition, not every symptom is related to a tumor; some, like headaches and nosebleeds, may be from other causes. Finally, symptoms are not the same in every individual with a brain tumor.
It is important that if you or someone you know suspects a brain tumor, you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Persistent symptoms warrant an MRI or CT scan in order to gain a diagnosis.
The earlier a brain tumor is detected and treated, the better the odds of survival. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our clinic.
The location of a spine tumor predominately determines what symptoms a patient will experience. Symptoms may also change as the spine tumor grows.
The most common symptom of spinal tumors is back (or neck) pain that does not improve with rest. This is one of the early symptoms of a spinal tumor.
Back pain in itself, however, is not necessarily a sign of a spine tumor. There are several other spine disorders and diseases that can cause chronic back and neck pain, alongside other non-threatening reasons such as a pulled muscle.
It is important to see a physician when:
Spinal tumors can occur:
The tumor may press on the spinal cord or nerve roots, causing damage; with time, the damage may become permanent.