Metastatic Tumors to the Brain and Spine

Skull bones are hard structures, non-deformable, so that the development of intracranial tumors leads to a pressure that can damage or destroy nerve cells. Brain tumors can be primary (onset in neurons, glial cells, nerve or brain meninges) or secondary, in which case it is called brain metastasis (with origin in other structures).

Brain metastases are common and usually are found in lung, breast or skin cancer.

The most common primary brain tumors occur in the glial cells, bearing the name of glioma.

They are:

– Benign, with clearly defined edges and without invading the tissue nearby, in which case it can be removed;

– Malignant, rapidly growing and can spread to other regions of the brain or, more rarely, of the body.

Symptoms that appear in this condition depend on the size of the tumor and its location. Time of symptom occurrence in tumor development is correlated with the type of tumor mostly – for a benign tumor with a prolonged development, installed late symptoms, and in case of malignant tumors symptoms appear early. Many benign tumors can be asymptomatic for many years, and discovered by accident on several occasions. Symptoms can be caused by compression of a nerve tumor, the allocation of certain brain regions, the majority being due to intracranial pressure. The most common symptoms are:

– headache, increased morning.

-dizziness or vomiting.

– disorders in speech, vision, impaired hearing.

– problems with balance or walking.

-conduct or personality disorder.

– impaired concentration,

-memory problems.

– convulsions or seizures.

– numbness in the limbs, face paralysis

Spinal cord tumors are benign or malignant formations occurring at or near the spinal cord or vertebrate. Although back pain is the most common manifestation of a spinal tumor, most back pain is associated with stress and aging, not with tumor pathology.

In most regions benign tumors do not pose particular challenges, but in case of spinal cord tumors (even benign) can cause serious health problems such as pain, nerve compression, neurological disorders and sometimes paralysis because of bone marrow.

A spinal cord tumor, whether benign or malignant, can be life threatening and can cause permanent disability, but nowadays there are many therapeutic approaches of these diseases.

Clinical manifestations vary depending on the location and type of tumor, because a tumor can get to compress nerves and blood vessels to erode even vertebrae.

Spinal cord tumor symptoms include:

• Back pain.

• Lack of nerve sensitivity and the appearance of muscle weakness, especially in the legs;

• Difficulty in walking, sometimes leading to falls;

• Decreased sensitivity to pain, hot or cold.

Backache, especially the middle and lower thorax, is the most common symptom of spinal cord tumors. The pain may be worse at night or on awakening, and can radiate from the spine to the hips, legs or arms, and may increase over time, despite treatment. Spinal cord tumors have a variable growth rate. In general, malignant tumors grow quickly, while benign tumors grow slowly, sometimes evolving for years or even decades.

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