Joseph Watson, MD
Board Certified Neurosurgeon located in Tyson's Corner, Vienna, VA
Back or neck pain, tingling, and numbness are common symptoms of several spinal conditions, including radiculopathy and spinal stenosis. They can also be symptoms of spinal tumors, so if you’re experiencing problems like these, you need to visit leading neurosurgeon Joseph Watson, MD, at Cerebrum MD in Northern Virginia and Greater DC area. Dr. Watson is a highly experienced physician who has specialist expertise in treating spinal tumors. Call Cerebrum MD today to arrange a consultation.
Spinal Tumors Q & A
What are spinal tumors?
Spinal tumors are growths formed from cells that are multiplying out of control. These cells can be benign or cancerous. Benign tumors, which are noncancerous, can still be a problem if they press on the nerves in your spinal canal.
Spinal tumors can develop on any of the tissues within your spinal column, including the:
- Spinal cord
- Nerve roots
- Dural sac
Primary spinal tumors are those that originate in your spine. Metastatic tumors are those that originate in other tissues and spread to your spine. For example, spinal tumors could be a complication of breast or lung cancer.
Spinal tumors commonly cause neck or back pain. The pain tends to get worse when you increase your activity levels. You might also experience weakness or numbness in your arms or legs, and possibly your chest.
How are spinal tumors diagnosed?
If you have symptoms that could be caused by a spinal tumor, Dr. Watson begins the diagnostic process with a review of your medical history and current symptoms, and a physical examination.
You might need to undergo diagnostic testing as well. The most common imaging tools used in diagnosing spinal tumors are X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. You might also need to have specialized testing using positron emission tomography (PET scan) or nuclear medicine bone scans.
Dr. Watson might need to get a sample of the tumor as well to find out what type of growth it is. He does this during a needle biopsy, inserting a hollow needle into the tumor and extracting a small piece of tissue, which is then sent to the lab for analysis.
How are spinal tumors treated?
In some cases, if the tumor isn’t causing any problems and seems slow-growing, observation might be the best option. That means having regular scans to check for any changes in the tumor, but leaving it alone if nothing has changed.
If the tumor requires treatment, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are typically the first methods used. You may have one or both of these treatments.
Symptoms indicating a need for surgery to treat spinal tumors include:
- Progressive weakness
- Spinal instability
- Severe pain
Surgery is also an option if radiation or chemotherapy isn’t working.
What are the surgical options for spinal tumors?
Surgical options for spinal tumors involve removing a part or all of the tumor. Dr. Watson might be able to cure primary spinal cancer by removing the growth “en bloc.” That means taking out the entire mass and a degree of surrounding healthy tissue to ensure no cancer cells are left behind.
If your cancer has metastasized, Dr. Watson can perform surgery to relieve your symptoms. Before undergoing spinal surgery, he discusses with you the potential benefits and risks of any procedure.
If you’re concerned about spinal tumors, call Cerebrum MD today.