Cancerous and Noncancerous Tumors of the Spine

A spine tumor is a growth in the spinal canal or on the bones or nerves of the spine. It may cause neurological issues, pain and even paralysis. Spine tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Most cancerous spine tumors are secondary cancers. This means they have metastasized (spread) from cancer that started elsewhere in the body. Tumors that originate in the spine are rare and are usually noncancerous.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Signs of spine tumors can come on gradually or happen suddenly. The symptoms include:

  • Back pain, particularly pain that worsens at night
  • Less sensitivity to cold, heat or pain
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function
  • Muscle weakness in various parts of the body
  • Pain that radiates from your back to other parts of the body
  • Reduced sensation in your arms or legs
  • Trouble walking

Spine tumors may be diagnosed using one or more of the following tests:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood test
  • Imaging tests, such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Tumor biopsy
  • Urine test

The outlook for spine tumors varies based on the type of tumor. Some are more fast growing and aggressive, while others are benign and cured by surgery or other treatment.

Experts in Care

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

We are a high-volume spine tumor treatment center in central Pennsylvania and treat hundreds of spine tumor patients each year. Our team also has expertise in treating and managing complex nerve tumors, which are tumors in the central and peripheral nervous systems.

We use the latest technology and a multidisciplinary approach to provide compassionate, patient-centered care. We offer the most advanced treatment options available, including traditional and minimally invasive ablative techniques.

Pain Management for Spine Tumors

Spine tumor patients often have complex needs involving not only their tumor, but also chronic pain. Our pain management physicians focus on safely managing pain using medical or surgical techniques.

Spine Tumor Quality of Life

All of our interventions are aimed at creating a maximum quantity and quality of life for our patients. We offer a variety of therapies, many of which are minimally invasive. Additionally, our team includes a nurse navigator and clinical social workers who help patients address quality of life factors, such as finances, nutrition, exercise, transportation and symptom management.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

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Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

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