Advertisement

What are spinal tumors?

Luke Macyszyn, MD
Neurosurgery
Spinal tumors can originate from another part of the body (metastasis), may form from the lining of the spinal cord, and can originate in the spinal cord itself. Metastases are usually found in the bones of the spine, whereas the latter are in or around the spinal cord itself. Tumors that originate in the spinal cord are usually the most serious.
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?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
General back pain does not usually mean you have a spinal cord tumor, but you may want to see your d...
More Answers
How quickly do spinal cord tumors grow?
Luke Macyszyn, MDLuke Macyszyn, MD
The growth of spinal cord tumors varies significantly depending on the type of tumor. Benign tumors ...
More Answers
Are spinal cord tumors different in children and adults?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Spinal cord tumors are different in children than in adults, primarily in how they should be treated...
More Answers
Will my spinal cord tumor recur?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Spinal cord tumors can come back (recur) after they have been treated. They can come back in the spi...
More Answers

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.