What is a spine tumor?

A tumor of the spinal cord is an abnormal tissue growth inside the spinal column.

Spinal tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Even benign tumors can cause problems by placing pressure on sensitive tissues and reduce function.


There are two types of spine tumors:

Primary tumors

Primary tumors are those that originate in the spinal cord. Most primary tumors are caused by:

  • Uncontrolled cell growth
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals

Secondary tumors

Secondary tumors, or metastatic tumors, are caused by cancer cells that orginated somewhere else in the body.


Spinal cord tumor symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis


The treatments for most spinal tumors are:

  • Monitoring. If the tumor is small and not causing any symptoms, monitoring it with periodic CT scans or MRI may be recommended.
  • Surgery. Surgical removal of the tumor is often necessary. Not all tumors can be completely removed, and surgery may be followed by radiation, chemotherapy or both.


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