Spinal Column Tumors

Tumors of the spinal column are fortunately rare, but can be devastating when they occur. The most common cause of spine tumors are metastatic tumors, or tumors that have spread to the spinal column from a malignancy elsewhere in the body. The majority of spinal tumors in young patients tend to be benign tumors that arise from the spine itself.

Patients with spine tumors generally experience pain in the area of the tumor. Muscle weakness or numbness may develop from the tumor pressing on the spinal cord or a nerve branch of the spinal cord. Depending on clinical findings, X-rays and other investigations, such as MRI and CT scans, may be necessary to fully evaluate the extent of the tumor. A biopsy may be required to determine the exact diagnosis. Whenever possible, the biopsy is performed by radiologists who specialize in core needle biopsies of the spine.

Treatment for Spinal Column Tumors

Many treatment options are available for patients with spinal tumors. Depending on the specific type of tumor, cautious observation, medication management, radiation treatments and surgical intervention may all be appropriate. At Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, a multidisciplinary group of musculoskeletal tumor specialists meets weekly to discuss patients and ensure that an individualized plan for each patient is determined to optimize outcome. 

If surgery is required, the patient undergoes careful pre-operative planning to assess the size and location of the tumor. Great care is taken during surgery to insure the spinal cord is protected, nerve function is preserved, and the spinal column is stabilized. The goal of surgery is pain reduction, and improved function and mobility .


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Clinical Cancer Center, Froedtert Hospital 9200 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53226

Cancer Network