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Back Pain - Tumours

Metastatic Cancer
Tumours of the spine and spinal cord are relatively uncommon. The most common initial symptom that patients with a spinal tumour have is pain. Because back pain is very common, it is also not a specific symptom of any one disease or medical condition. Spinal cord tumours can be either primary (originating in the spinal cord) or secondary (metastases of cancer that originated elsewhere in the body). Therefore, the challenge is to determine how to evaluate back pain with the goal of specifically excluding a tumour as the cause of the pain. Luckily, most back pain is not due to a tumour. However, if a cancer were discovered after a long period of "conservative" management of back pain, most patients would feel that their problem should have been investigated more thoroughly in the beginning.

Benign Tumours

Doctors use the term "benign" to indicate that a particular tumour is unlikely to spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumours can still be a significant problem however, depending upon their location, size, adjacent structures, blood supply, and other factors. Fortunately, most benign tumours can be treated successfully.

Malignant Lesions

Doctors use the term "malignant" to indicate that a particular tumour or a cancer often spreads to other parts of the body, and can be difficult to cure or treat. This is very different from "benign" cancers, which are much less likely to spread, are easier to treat and control.

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