Spinal Tumors

Spinal tumors that start in the spine are rare. While uncommon, a diagnosis of a spinal tumor can still be unsettling. Count on our multidisciplinary team to help support and care for you during this journey. We are here to provide an integrated approach to create a customized treatment for you.

What Is a Spinal Tumor? 

A spinal tumor, also known as a spinal cord tumor, is a growth that develops in the tissue of the spine. While only some spinal tumors are cancerous, most cause back pain and discomfort and can lead to more serious conditions, like disability, if not removed.

Types of Spinal Tumors

There are two types of spinal tumors: malignant and benign. Sometimes, cysts can be mistaken for tumors since they are similar in size and shape. Metastatic spinal tumors are common. These are tumors that have developed and formed from other tumors or cancer that have spread.

Malignant Spinal Tumors

Malignant spinal tumors are cancerous and may spread to other parts of the body.

Multiple Myeloma: This type of cancer forms in the plasma cells. Plasma cells fight off infections in the body. When multiple myeloma takes over the healthy plasma cells, the cancerous plasma cells grow in the bone marrow.

Chordoma: Chordoma is a slow forming type of tumor that can form in the lower back and the base of the skull. If located in the lower back, chordoma tumors can cause pain in the legs and issues controlling your bowels or bladder. If it is located at the base of the skull, symptoms can include headaches and double vision. While chordoma can occur in anyone of any age, it is most commonly found in adults from ages 40 to 60.

Benign Spinal Tumors

Benign spinal tumors are not cancerous and do not spread throughout the body.

Hemangioblastoma: This type of tumor is uncommon and can grow in the brain, spinal cord and retina. The main cause of hemangioblastoma is unknown and they can appear and grow slowly over time. Depending on the location of the hemangioblastoma, symptoms include headaches, nausea, motor function loss, unable to control bladder or bowel function and coordination issues.

Schwannoma: Schwannoma is a tumor that grows on the nerves in the nervous system. While the main cause of schwannoma is unknown, there may be a connection to genetics. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, it may cause numbness and pain.

Meningioma: Meningioma is a common type of brain tumor that is typically benign. This type of tumor usually forms on the membranes near the spinal cord and brain. Depending on the location of the tumor, symptoms can include vision loss, seizures, coordination issues and weakness in limbs. Our specialists will conduct a neurological exam and run imaging tests to determine a diagnosis of meningioma.

Learn more about neurosurgical tumors.

Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Tumor

Common signs of a spinal tumor can be tied to back and neck pain. It’s important to listen to your body if you start to feel numbness, find it difficult to walk or feel weak. If left untreated, spinal tumors can cause spinal deformities, like scoliosis or kyphosis, to form.

Testing and Diagnosis for Spinal Tumors

Our spine specialists will order imaging tests to better determine your condition. Testing may include:

Learn more about spinal tumor testing and diagnosis

Spinal Tumor Treatment Options

Our team of specialists is here to help get you back on your feet. We understand that discussing treatment options for spinal tumors can be overwhelming. Trust the multidisciplinary staff at Banner Health to provide support and personalized care for your spinal tumor. Treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgical removal of the tumor

Learn more about spine surgery.

Our multidisciplinary team of experts will communicate with you every step of the way to make sure you are informed and educated on treatment options. We’re here to support you through this journey. Lean on us to answer any questions you may have.