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Cauda Equina And Cancer

Cauda Equina And Cancer

Cauda Equina Syndrome occurs when the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord become compressed. This can happen for a number of reasons, one of which is the presence of a cancerous tumour. If this underlying problem is not detected in time, a patient's suffering will be increased twofold: a delay in cancer diagnosis reduce their chances of recovery, while a delay in diagnosing Cauda Equina will also cause extensive neurological damage.

How Does Cancer Cause Cauda Equina?

If a tumour develops at the bottom of the spinal cord, it will put pressure the mass of root nerves called the 'cauda equina'. As the cancer compresses these nerves, a patient will begin to experience Cauda Equina Syndrome.

Initially, the symptoms will be very similar to sciatica. There will be acute pain in the back, leg(s), buttock(s) and possibly even the abdomen, which will be accompanied by numbness and/or a tingling sensation. As the cancer grows, the amount of pressure upon the nerves will increase. This will lead to a loss of control in the legs, as well as bladder and bowel problems. These may include-

  • Loss of anal tone;
  • Inability to pass urine;
  • Incontinence of both urine and faeces;
  • Increase in urgency and frequency.

Can Cauda Equina Caused by Cancer Be Prevented?

Cauda Equina Syndrome can be prevented if the cancer is identified in time. Medical professionals should immediately recognise the above symptoms as the warning signs of Cauda Equina. Steps should then be taken to make a firm diagnosis.

If a patient has had no history of trauma (such as a car crash) that could have caused the spinal cord to become compressed, further investigations should be carried out to identify the underlying cause. This will likely involve blood tests, an MRI scan and possibly a referral to a specialist neurosurgeon.

Once a tumour has been recognised, it is vital surgery is performed to decompress the spinal cord as soon as possible. The longer treatment is withheld, the more extensive the nerve damage will be. This could lead a patient to suffer long-term complications, including bowel and bladder problems, as well as partial or complete paralysis.

Can You Make a Medical Negligence Claim?

If a tumour is compressing the spinal cord, thereby causing Cauda Equina Syndrome, it is important it is diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion. If there is a failure to do so, the level of care provided may well have fallen below an acceptable standard. If this has happened to you, you need to seek urgent legal advice, as you may have been the victim of medical negligence. If so, you will be able to make a claim, helping you obtain compensation for the pain and suffering you have had to endure.

Can We Help You With A Medical Negligence Enquiry?

Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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