Can Scoliosis Lead to Cancer?


a back of a person

Cancer is a serious medical diagnosis. Approximately 1.8 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer in 2019. In the same year, over 600,000 Americans died from cancer. 5.5% of Americans have cancer, but less than 3% of Americans are affected by scoliosis. Research has shown that there can be a relationship between scoliosis and cancer, although there is no evidence that scoliosis causes cancer at this time.

Scoliosis: Definition and Causes

Scoliosis is a physical condition. A person who has scoliosis has a curved spine. Their spine may curve in a “C” shape or may have two curves that resemble an ‘S’ shape. It is most common for people to develop scoliosis between the ages of 10 and 15. There are three main causes of scoliosis. Congenital scoliosis is the result of a physical malformation. In some cases, parts of the spine grow at different rates.

Vertebrae may also be deformed, causing a curvature. Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs when a neurological or muscular disease causes curvature. This can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. 80% of scoliosis patients are diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis. This term is used when doctors cannot conclusively determine the cause of scoliosis.

How Scoliosis is Diagnosed


Photo Credit: Unsplash

A physical exam can identify many symptoms of scoliosis. Doctors can check to see if there is a difference in shoulder height or rib alignment. A patient’s waist may also be uneven or their hips may be different heights. Back pain can be an indication of scoliosis, although not all people with scoliosis experience this symptom.

A forward bend test can be used to visually identify spinal curvature. In order to confirm a diagnosis, the patient will be sent for an MRI, X-ray or spinal radiograph. These diagnostic tools can be used to confirm the diagnosis and measure the curvature. The curvature could be considered minor. Significant curves are 25 degrees or more. Serious curvature exceeds 45 degrees.

Cancer: Definition and Causes

When a person’s genes are damaged it can cause cancer. It isn’t always clear what the root cause of cancer is and people may have damaged genes without getting cancer. Some forms of cancer have genetic links. A genetic defect can increase your chances of developing some cancers, such as bone cancer and brain cancer. Your risk of developing cancer can increase from exposure to everything from sunlight to food, fibers or some drugs.

Doctors recommend that you cover your skin and use sunscreen to protect against skin cancer. Patients are also advised to stop smoking to reduce their risk of developing liver, lung, throat and oral cancer. Vaccines that prevent some illnesses, such as human papillomavirus, can protect people from developing cancer in the anus or vagina.

How Cancer is Diagnosed

There are many different types of cancer, which means that it can be diagnosed through a number of methods. Doctors may identify lumps during a physical exam, which could indicate cancer. Urine tests may be effective indicators for some forms of cancer. Leukemia is typically diagnosed with a blood test.

Patients may also be sent to Ezra, which is a comprehensive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan that can effectively identify cancer in several internal organs, such as the bladder, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreas. Professionals can locate and measure tumors during an MRI scan. Doctors can also order a biopsy. In a biopsy, some cells are removed from a potential tumor and evaluated to determine whether or not the patient has cancer.

The Relationship Between Cancer and Scoliosis


Photo Credit: Unsplash

There is no evidence that indicates that scoliosis causes cancer at this time; however, there is evidence that individuals can develop scoliosis as a result of being treated for cancer. The risk is greatest for children who are treated for cancer. Treatments may cause developmental issues that affect the child’s muscles and soft tissue. If the bones, tissue or muscle are uneven the child can develop scoliosis.

Any indication of the symptoms for scoliosis is a reason to see doctors for scoliosis who can perform a comprehensive exam and develop a treatment plan. The spine can also be impacted by a spinal tumor, although spinal tumors are not common and most seem to develop in patients who have been treated for another type of cancer.

image/svg+xmlLayer 1

Contact Us