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Spinal cancer symptoms

The symptoms of spinal cancer depend on several factors, including the tumor type, size, location and extent, as well as age, health history and more. Some common spinal cancer symptoms include pain, numbness, weakness and difficulty with urination.

The symptoms of spinal cancer may occur very slowly. Other times, they occur quickly, even over a matter of hours or days. Metastatic spinal tumors, which have spread to the spine from another location in the body, often progress quickly.

cancer symptoms

Common spinal cancer symptoms

The most noticeable sign of spinal cancer is pain. Pain can come from the tumor's presence in the spinal column, pushing on sensitive nerve endings or causing spinal instability. When the spine is not lined up properly, other physically notable symptoms may result (e.g., changes in posture, Kyphosis or hunchback).

When the tumor presses on the spinal cord, symptoms may begin with numbness or tingling in the arms or legs. Next, there may be clumsiness, not knowing where the feet are, and difficulty with buttons or keys. As the disease progresses, spinal cancer symptoms may grow to include weakness, inability to move the legs and eventually paralysis.

Some common signs of spinal tumors may include the following:

  • Pain (back and/or neck pain, arm and/or leg pain)
  • Muscle weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Difficulty walking
  • General loss of sensation
  • Difficulty with urination (incontinence)
  • Change in bowel habits (retention)
  • Paralysis to varying degrees
  • Spinal deformities
  • Pain or difficulty with standing

Understanding cancer symptoms

These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. If you notice any cancer signs or symptoms, it's important to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

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