Spinal tumors are rare and usually begin elsewhere in the body and spread through the bloodstream to the spinal cord. Spinal tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Because both malignant and benign tumors can compress the spinal cord and nerves that carry messages to and from the brain, they are a serious health risk and must be promptly diagnosed and treated.
Symptoms are diverse and affect different parts of the body depending upon the location of the tumor. They may include pain or numbness in the arms, neck, legs or back; loss of muscle strength, motor skills or feeling in the extremities; decreased skin sensitivity to temperature changes; and loss of bladder and/or bowel control. Treatment options may involve a combination of surgery, to reduce the size of the lesion, plus radiation and/or chemotherapy.