Spinal tumor screening is generally not recommended for individuals who do not have symptoms of spine cancer, with the exception of patients who have certain rare inherited syndromes that heighten their risk of developing the condition. Currently, there is no way to test for spinal cord tumors that is reliable and cost-effective enough to justify its widespread use. As research continues, more is being learned about the prevention and detection of cancer, and the growing knowledge base may one day facilitate the development of a screening test that can be used for the general population.
As with most other medical conditions, early detection and appropriate treatment can often improve the outcome of spine cancer. Because there are currently no methods that are specifically designed or endorsed for spinal tumor screening, early detection most often results from a patient’s knowledge of potential symptoms and familiarity with what is normal for him or her. For instance, it is important to be vigilant for and promptly consult with a physician regarding the sudden onset or worsening of neck or back pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, walking or standing difficulties, incontinence or a general loss of sensation throughout the body.
If any of these symptoms are present and spine cancer is suspected, the multispecialty team of spine cancer experts in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Neuro-Oncology Program can utilize the latest imaging technologies to rule out or diagnose a spinal tumor and learn about its location, size and severity. Our spinal tumor screening options include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scans
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs)
- Electroencephalograms (EEGs)
- Neurological examinations performed by our proven neuro-oncology physicians
Using these tests, we can assess the neural elements of a variety of spinal tumors, including meningiomas, schwannomas, astrocytomas and ependymomas. Any type of spinal tumor can potentially compress the spinal cord or other sensitive neural tissue, which can lead to pain and other neurological symptoms. Highly skilled at treating spinal tumors, the spinal surgery team at Moffitt is among the most talented in the country.