Home > Conditions > Spinal Tumors
The spine runs down the back and includes the spinal cord, which is protected by a fibrous material called the dura. Spinal tumors can arise in any area of the spine and are grouped based on location. The three groups of spinal tumors are: extradural (outside of the dura), intradural-extramedullary (between the spinal cord and the dura) and intramedullary (within the substance of the spinal cord itself).
Extradural lesions are the most common, representing 60% of all spinal tumors. The most common extradural tumors are metastatic, meaning they reached the spine after starting somewhere else in the body.
Intradural-extramedullary tumors make up about 30% of cases. The main types are meningiomas and schwannomas. Meningiomas arise from the dura and are more common in women. Schwannomas arise from the lining of nerve roots.
Intramedullary tumors are uncommon. The most common intramedullary tumors are:
- Astrocytoma: tumors from the support cells in the spinal cord
- Ependymoma: tumors from the cells that line the central spinal cord
- Hemangioblastoma: vascular tumors within the spinal cord
Symptoms of Spinal Tumors:
Spinal tumors typically grow slowly. So, symptoms are often prolonged and get worse over time. Though symptoms depend on the location and type of tumor, the most common are:
- Back pain that tends to get worse at night
- Difficulty walking
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
A full physical examination and an MRI are needed for proper diagnosis of a spinal tumor.