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What are spinal tumors?

Spinal tumors are masses of cells that develop and grow on the vertebrae, nerves or other tissues in the spine. They can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Fewer than 10 percent of spinal tumors begin in the spine; these are called primary tumors. Most spinal tumors are growths of cancer that have spread (metastasized) to the spine from another location in the body; these are called secondary tumors. Symptoms may be slow to develop and include back pain, weakness, incontinence or erectile dysfunction.

To diagnose a spinal tumor and determine the type of tumor, a health care provider may take a thorough medical history, do a physical examination, order laboratory tests to examine cells and fluid around the spine and get imaging tests of the spinal area, including spine CT scans, spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-rays of the spine.

Continue Learning about Spinal Cord Tumors

Should I talk to my doctor if I think I have a spinal cord tumor?
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General back pain does not usually mean you have a spinal cord tumor, but you may want to see your d...
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How do other illnesses affect spinal cord tumors?
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhDDr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
How spinal cord tumors are treated and managed depends on whether there is cancer in other parts of ...
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What factors affect my chances of recovery from spinal cord tumors?
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The prognosis of spinal cord tumors depends on a few factors. The type and location of the tumor can...
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How quickly do spinal cord tumors grow?
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhDDr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Quite often, primary spinal cord tumors grow very slowly and can even take years to cause symptoms. ...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.