Suze Orman, financial expert and former host of The Suze Orman Show, recently discovered she had a benign (non-cancerous) tumor on her spine. Orman’s doctors determined the tumor needed to be removed right away, so in late July she underwent spinal surgery to remove the tumor.
Spinal tumors are a less-often discussed medical condition, but they can be very dangerous if not treated quickly and properly.
What is a Spinal Tumor?
When diagnosed with a tumor on your spine, that means there’s a growth that has developed within your spinal canal or within the bones of your spine. Spinal tumors can lead to pain and neurological problems, and, in some cases, they can be life-threatening. Thankfully for Orman, her tumor was found to be benign, or non-cancerous, but not everyone receives a benign diagnosis.
The most common types of spinal cord tumors are intramedullary and extramedullary tumors. Intramedullary tumors develop in the spinal cord cells, while extramedullary tumors grow in the membrane around the spinal cord or in the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord.
When it comes to benign spinal tumors like Orman’s, it’s possible that the patient may not have symptoms and the tumor may not grow, so a physician could recommend other options first. It is, however, important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of spinal cord tumors so you know when to seek medical attention:
Spinal Tumor Symptoms
As tumors grow, the symptoms you feel may change. Be on the lookout for:
- Back pain that may travel to other areas of your body and feel worse at night
- Difficulty walking
- Feeling less sensitive to temperature changes
- Loss of bladder or bowel function
- Muscle weakness
Possible Treatment Options
“Treatment for spinal tumors may include observation with regular MRI imaging, systemic therapy, radiation therapy, surgery or a combination,” says Dr. Cory Hartman, neurosurgeon at AdventHealth Orlando. “Timing of treatment depends on the size and location of the tumor, as well as assessing any pain or neurologic deficit the tumor may be causing. At AdventHealth we are fortunate to have a multidisciplinary tumor board that meets weekly to discuss the ideal treatment for each individual patient with spinal tumors.”
Connect With the Spine Center
Learn more about the spinal conditions we treat, as well as follow-up care options, at the AdventHealth Spine Center.