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UR Medicine / Neurosurgery / Services / Conditions / Spinal Cord Tumor


Spinal Cord Tumor

For more information, please visit our Comprehensive Brain & Spinal Tumor site

Spinal tumors are neoplasms located in the spinal cord. They are mostly metastases from primary cancers elsewhere (commonly breast, prostate and lung cancer). Primary tumors may be benign (e.g. hemangioma) or malignant in nature.

Depending on their location, the spinal cord tumors can be:

  • Extradural - outside the dura mater lining
  • Intradural - part of the dura
  • Intramedullary - inside the spinal cord

The symptoms seen are due to spinal nerve compression and weakening of the vertebral structure. Incontinence and decreased sensitivity in the saddle area (buttocks) are generally considered warning signs of spinal cord compression by the tumor. Back pain in a patient with known malignancy may prompt a bone scan to confirm or exclude spinal metastasis.