Why choose us for spinal tumor care?
Leading spinal tumor therapies and medical expertise are within reach at Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Our team includes experienced doctors with additional fellowship training who diagnose and treat many types of rare spinal tumors. We offer advanced therapies not offered elsewhere in San Antonio. Options include stereotactic radiation therapy and sophisticated reconstructive surgeries to stabilize and rebuild the spine.
Find out more about our neuro-oncology (brain tumor) program.
What you need to know about spinal tumors
- A primary spinal tumor starts along the spine. Primary spinal tumors may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancer).
- Cancer may occur elsewhere on the body and spread to the spine. Doctors call these growths metastatic spinal tumors.
- All spinal tumors are rare. Some tumors can cause life-threatening symptoms, including paralysis. If you experience numbness in your arms or legs that won’t go away, seek immediate medical attention.
- No one knows what causes people to develop spinal tumors. You may be more likely to experience a spinal tumor if you have neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), a rare inherited condition that families can pass down through their genes.
- If you have a spinal tumor, it’s important to receive qualified care. Because our team treats a high volume of cancer cases, including those affecting the brain and central nervous system, we can deliver precise, personalized care.
How to talk to your doctor about spinal tumors
People react to a spinal tumor diagnosis in different ways. Whatever you’re feeling, you can count on us to provide expert guidance and compassion.
You can trust our team to offer leading treatment options based on some of the latest cancer advances. We will explain your diagnosis and discuss any clinical trials for which you may be eligible.
You might want to ask your doctor about:
- Additional testing, if any, you may need to guide diagnosis or treatment
- Tumor type, including whether or where a spinal tumor has spread and how it may affect your health
- Treatment options, including what to expect if your doctor recommends surgery and any clinical trials for which you may be eligible
- Support services, including resources that can relieve discomfort or help you overcome challenges due to treatment
Making treatment decisions alone can feel daunting. You may find it beneficial to have a trusted family member or friend come with you to appointments. This support may make it easier to talk through important care decisions.
Spinal tumors can form out of various parts of the spinal column, which reaches from your neck down to your pelvic bone.
Most spinal tumors fall into these types:
- Intramedullary spinal tumors start growing from cells that make up the inside of the actual spinal cord (nerves).
- Intradural-extramedullary spinal tumors develop outside of the spinal cord but inside the dura (a thin layer that protects the spinal cord).
- Extradural spinal tumors make up most spinal tumors. They occur outside the dura, developing from the bones of the spine (vertebrae) or from cartilage tissue.
- Metastatic spinal tumors describe cancer that starts in another area (like lymphoma in the lymph nodes) and spreads to tissues in or near the spine.