Spinal Cancer Information

Spinal cancer is the growth of tumors within the spinal column. Primary tumors that originate in the spine are relatively rare. Most of these tumors are metastatic, or spread from another area in the body. Metastatic spinal tumors spread from breast, lung, or prostate cancer most frequently.

Spinal cancer is classified based on the location of the tumor:

  • Intramedullary tumors – occurring within the spinal cord

  • Intradural extramedullary tumors – occurring within the membrane that covers the spinal cord, but outside of the spinal cord nerves themselves

  • Vertebral column tumors – occurring outside of the spinal cord on the vertebrae or discs of the spine

For any type of spinal cancer, the first symptom is often back pain, localized to the region where the tumor occurs. This pain may be worse at night and unrelated to physical activity. If the tumor begins to press on the spinal cord and affects the nerves that radiate out to the extremities, muscle weakness in the arms and legs may occur, along with reduced sensitivity to heat, cold, and pain. While many types of primary spinal cancer tumors are benign and grow slowly over a matter of years, the increasing pressure on the spinal cord, if left untreated, may result in permanent damage.

Tampa General Hospital’s neuro-oncologists are dedicated to the treatment of a wide array of tumors that occur in the central nervous system. Our spinal cancer treatment center focuses on creating individualized treatment plans for each patient and their particular symptoms, and may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgical excision. At TGH, we use the latest technology to assist in our treatment procedures, including robot-assisted technology, stereotactic guidance, and intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) equipment.

For a physician referral, please call (813) 844-2200 or use our Physician Finder tool.