A spine tumor is a growth of cells, or a mass, surrounding the spinal cord.

Tumors can be benign or malignant in nature. While it is uncommon for cancer to originate in the spine, it can spread, or metastasize, to the spine from other areas of the body. These tumors are called secondary spine tumors.

As the tumor grows, it can affect blood vessels, vertebrae and nerve roots, causing pain and discomfort.

Spine Tumor Symptoms

The symptoms depend on the location, type of tumor and your general health. Tumors in the spinal cord usually cause symptoms, sometimes over large portions of the body. Tumors outside the spinal cord may grow for a long time before causing nerve damage.

Symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal sensations or loss of sensation, especially in the legs
  • Back pain that gets worse over time
  • Cold sensation of the legs, cool fingers or hands, or coolness of other areas
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Bladder leakage, muscle contractions, twitches or spasms
  • Muscle function loss
  • Muscle weakness in the legs that causes falls, makes walking difficult and may get worse

Spine Tumor Diagnosis

A neurological exam may help pinpoint the location of the tumor. Other tests may include:

Spine Tumor Treatment

It is important to start treatment as soon as the tumor is discovered. When radiation treatments or chemotherapy are not effective, surgery may be recommended.

The Spine Center is one of the few centers in the nation to use noninvasive Gamma Knife technology for spine cancer treatment. Gamma Knife pinpoints tiny beams of radiation to destroy diseased tissue without harming healthy tissue. Its high success rate and short recovery period for patients make it the preferred choice of neurosurgeons worldwide.