Metastatic Spinal Tumour

A metastatic spinal tumour is when cancer in another location of the body spreads to the spine. This is a more common variety of spinal tumour and it usually affects the thoracic spine the most often. More than 30% of patients with cancers in other locations will metastasise to the spine.

There are more common subtypes of cancers that spread to the spine. This includes cancers from:

  • the lung
  • the prostate in men
  • the breast in women

Other less common types include:

  • renal cell carcinomas
  • lymphomas
  • melanomas
  • cancers from the thyroid
  • cancers from the gastrointestinal tract

Spinal Metastases Symptoms

The presentation of symptoms depends on few factors which include:

  • location of the tumour
  • size of the tumour
  • the pace at which the tumour has grown
  • whether the tumour is compressing the spinal cord or spinal nerves

Commonly the symptoms include:

  • pain
  • numbness
  • weakness
  • loss of function
  • loss of proper control of the bowel of urinary bladder

The typical pain symptoms are constant and unrelated to activity. Although movement may aggravate pain symptoms further.

Spinal Metastases Diagnosis

The confirmatory diagnosis comes from performing an MRI scan. It may be necessary to perform a CT scan to understand the extent of bony involvement or destruction if any.

Spinal Metastases Treatment

The treatment of metastatic spinal tumours is usually multidisciplinary.

The team at Neuroaxis work closely with oncologists to assist the decision-making process around treatment. Together they will offer the best possible surgical therapy option to achieve the goals of surgical treatment with reduced morbidity.

Using keyhole surgery techniques hastens recovery and reduces postoperative complications. The goals of surgery in the setting of a metastatic spinal tumour range from:

  • achieving a biopsy
  • decompressing the spinal cord
  • completely removing a tumour
  • providing stability to the spine


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To make an appointment with one of our neurosurgeons, please call 03 9329 4761.

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