Signs & symptoms of cervical spine cancer

Updated July 05, 2018

Cervical spine cancer is a condition where tumours grow along the spinal column. These tumours may sit along the vertebrae or within the dural sac. This is a rare condition that makes up only 0.04 per cent of all tumours and 10 per cent of all bone tumours, according to the The Doctors of USC at Doctors will try to cure the cancer without surgery unless the tumours are creating a neurological block, meaning they are impinging on nerve function and impeding the use of arms, legs or bladder control. If you are concerned about cervical spine cancer, you should seek an MRI and a diagnosis from a qualified radiologist.

Neck Pain

Neck pain is a predominant symptom of cervical spine cancer. This isn't to say that all neck pain is suggestive of cancer. The type of pain associated with cervical spine cancer is relentless and not relieved by traditional methods of neck pain relief such as massage, chiropractic manipulation or pain medications.

Loss of Motion

The neck is designed to have a range of motion that goes side to side, up and down and rotate. Progressively diminished motion occurs as cervical spine cancer progresses, making it more difficult for patients to perform simple head movements. Patients will complain about a stiff neck that doesn't go away and lose movement, especially in areas where a tumour may impede spinal motion.

Weakness in Extremities

The nerves that emanate from the cervical region of the spine provide sensory and motor input to the arms and legs. They also help maintain bladder control. If there is an impediment of these nerves resulting from tumour growth, the nerves may become compressed and not get the nutrients they need to remain healthy. As a result, the arms and legs may become weak, losing motor control and dexterity. You may feel the need to go to the bathroom more often than normal and have bouts of incontinence.

Flu-like Symptoms

Unlike other cervical spinal conditions such as herniated discs and stenosis, those with cervical spine cancer may experience flu-like symptoms that don't dissipate. Fever, night-sweats and fatigue are very common symptoms, along with a loss of appetite and depression. A stiff neck with a cold that doesn't go away is an indication that there is something much more than a musculoskeletal condition occurring.

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About the Author

With more than 15 years of professional writing experience, Kimberlee finds it fun to take technical mumbo-jumbo and make it fun! Her first career was in financial services and insurance.