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Spinal Tumors

Treatment for Spinal Tumors at New York Methodist -- 718.246.8610

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a spinal tumor?
A spinal tumor is a growth of abnormal tissue affecting the spinal cord. The term "primary" is used when the abnormal tissue originates within the spine. Should the abnormal tissue originate elsewhere in the body and later spread to the spine, the term "secondary" is used.

What causes the tumors?
The cause of primary spinal tumors is unknown. Some primary spinal tumors occur with genetic defects.

Where do spinal tumors begin?
Spinal tumors can begin in different locations:

  • Inside the cord
  • Between the spinal cord and its protective membranes.
  • Between the protective membranes and nearby bones of the vertebral column
  • Inside the bones of the vertebral column.
  • Spine tumors can occur at any level of the spine from the place where the skull and the spine meet

What levels of the spine can be affected?
Spine tumors can occur at any level of the spine:

  • At the junction of the skull and the cervical spine
  • The cervical spine.
  • The thoracic spine
  • The lumbar spine
  • At the junction of the spine and the pelvis

What are the symptoms of a spinal tumor?
The symptoms depend on the combination of the location, level, type of tumor, and your general health. Tumors that have spread to the spine from another site (metastatic tumors) often progress quickly. Primary tumors may progress slowly over long periods of time.
Symptoms may include:

  • Change in sensation
  • Pain
  • Incontinence of bowel or bladder
  • Change in muscular strength
  • Change in balance or walking

What is the goal of treatment of spinal tumors ?
The goal of treatment is to stop ongoing neurologic damage to the spinal cord, stabilize the vertebral column and minimize the risk of further difficulties.

How do the specialists at NYM treat spinal tumors?
Your doctor may recommend any of the following depending on unique situation:

  • Corticosteroids and other medications may be given to reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Surgery may be needed to relieve compression on the spinal cord. Some tumors can be completely removed. In other cases, part of the tumor may be removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used with, or instead of, surgery. Learn more about treatment for cancerous tumors.
  • Physical therapy and bracing may have roles in recovery phase.

For more information, call 718.246.8610