Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
A spinal tumor is a growth in the area of the spine. The tumor may be in the bones of the spine, nerve tissue, or soft tissue around the spine.
The tumor can press on nerves and blood supply causing a health problem. It may be:
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The most common cause is the spread of cancer from other parts of the body. Any cancer in the body can spread to the spine. The cancers that do this most often are:
The cause of other spinal tumors is not always clear. It may be from genetics and the environment.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Small tumors may not cause any health problems. Larger tumors may press on or affect nearby nerves or blood vessels. The most common health problem is back pain that was not caused by an injury. The pain may get worse over time and spread to the hips, legs, or arms.
Other health problems will depend on the area of the tumor. A person may have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. Neurological tests may also be done to look for the source of back or neck problems.
Pictures of the spine will be taken. This can be done with:
Other tests may be done to learn more about the tumor.
Treatment will depend on the type of tumor and where it is. Choices may include one or more of the following:
Some people may need surgery to remove the tumor or to ease pain.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Cancer Care Ontario
Spinal cord tumor. University of California San Francisco Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/spinal_cord_tumor. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Spinal tumors. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Spinal%20Tumors.aspx. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Spinal tumors. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center website. Available at: http://www.mdanderson.org/patient-and-cancer-information/cancer-information/cancer-types/spinal-tumors/index.html. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD Last Updated: 5/4/2021