Cancer is a collection of related diseases characterized by abnormal cells growing out of control, crowding out normal cells, and spreading to other tissues.
- Some cancers grow and spread quickly, while others grow slowly.
- Different cancers respond differently to treatment.
- Cancer can start anywhere in the body.
- Many cancers form a lump or growth called a tumor.
- Common treatments for cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
While your tailbone pain doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, there are forms of cancer that can affect the tailbone.
There are a number of cancers that occur in the tailbone — also called the coccyx — which is a bony triangular structure located at the bottom of the spine below the sacrum. Tailbone cancer could be cancer that’s spread from cancer elsewhere in your body, such as your lungs.
Chordoma is a rare type of cancerous tumor that can occur on the spine. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, one of the places chordoma often occurs is the tailbone.
Standard radiation and chemotherapy aren’t typically effective, so surgery is usually the preferred treatment option. Surgery on a tailbone chordoma may be difficult because it’s so close to the spinal cord.
When removing the chordoma, the surgeon must also remove some of the normal tissue surrounding it. Sometimes, if important structures are very close to the tumor, this surgery might have side effects, such as:
According to the Mayo Clinic, most cancerous vertebral tumors are metastatic, meaning they spread from cancer elsewhere in the body. Although any type of cancer can spread to the spine, the most likely are:
The symptoms of a vertebral tumor on the tailbone are basically the same as for chordoma.
Some people with colon cancer feel pain in their tailbone. Other symptoms include:
- rectal bleeding
- abdominal discomfort
- constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than 4 weeks
Tailbone area pain can also be the result of conditions unrelated to cancer, such as:
Persistent tailbone pain could be related to some forms of cancer. It may also come from cancer elsewhere in your body, such as your lungs. However, tailbone pain may often have a benign, less concerning origin.
Either way, see your doctor if you’re concerned or if you have intense or persistent pain. Many conditions are best treated when caught early.