Back and neck pain early symptoms of spine cancer

Kathmandu, February 3

The number of spine cancer patients is increasing in the country in the recent years, according to doctors. More than ten patients underwent spine cancer surgeries at National Trauma Centre alone in the last two years.

The doctors therefore have advised people not to ignore back pain and neck pain as it could be early symptoms of spine cancer and visit health facilities for early diagnosis of the disease.

“It is necessary to visit doctors when there is back and neck pain. The pain is dull aching, continuous and more in the evening or at night. Sometimes, there may be a sudden excruciating neck and back pain. Besides pain, patients can complain of pain in the hands or legs, weakness of limbs or even paralysis,” said Dr Gaurav Raj Dhakal, spine surgeon at the National Trauma Centre.

Spine cancer or spine tumour can occur in the spine itself or can spread from other organs of the body. Majority of the spine tumours spread from other parts of the body which is called metastatic spine tumour. It is common in people above 45 years of age, according to Dr Dhakal.

X- rays, CT and MRI scan  can detect spine tumour, its size and amount of spinal cord compression. Latest diagnostic modalities like PET scan and Radio-isotope bone scan were also available in the country for the diagnosis of the disease, as per Dr Dhakal . “Biopsy from the tumour site is a must for confirmatory diagnosis for cancer,” added Dr Dhakal.

However, the challenge remains as most patients in the country visit health centres in a late stage. Cancer management is possible as surgical, chemotherapy and radiotherapy is available in the country. “The patients must visit health centres at the earliest,’ advised the doctor.

“An effective health insurance policy will be helpful to cover spine cancer treatment as the treatment is expensive,” added Dr Dhakal.

The government has started providing Rs 5,000 as monthly livelihood allowance to patients suffering from kidney failure, cancer and paralysis due to spinal injury from January 26 after the cabinet meeting on December 28 took a decision to that effect.