Spinal Cord Tumors

A spinal cord tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue in or surrounding the spinal cord or spinal column. It can be benign or malignant.

Most spinal cord cancers are metastatic cancers, meaning they have spread to the spinal cord from a primary cancer, such as melanoma, breast cancer, and lung cancer. Sometimes these metastases press on the spinal cord and result in acute neurological symptoms that are considered neurological emergencies. Primary spinal cord tumors – tumors that originate in the spine from spinal tissue rather than from other cancers – are rare and often benign.

Types of primary spinal cord tumors include: astrocytomas, ependymomas, schwannomas, meningiomas, and neurofibromas.

Specialized Experts

At UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, we treat all spinal cord tumor types, from the benign slow-growing tumors to the most malignant tumors that can cause severe neurologic disabilities. We offer specialists who focus on these types of tumors, which is important when you’re choosing where to have treatment. You want a specialist who has experience with your type of tumor.

UT Southwestern has the unique advantage of being an academic medical center and the only cancer center in North Texas that’s designated by the National Cancer Institute, meaning we have access to specialists, treatments, and research that you won’t find anywhere else in the region.

Our spinal cord tumor team meets weekly to discuss patient cases and collaborate on treatment plans. This Neuro-Oncology Tumor Board meeting ensures communication within the entire spinal cord team, including neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, and radiation oncologists. The Tumor Board also includes specialists such as neuropathologists and neuroradiologists to make sure you’re getting the most accurate diagnosis, which is critical in formulating a thorough and definitive treatment plan for your spinal cord tumor.

Treatments

Our experts will work with you to create the best treatment plan for your tumor. We offer the latest treatments:

  • Surgery – including microsurgical techniques that make it easier to distinguish tumor from healthy tissue
  • Radiation therapy – including stereotactic radiosurgery technologies Gamma Knife and CyberKnife, which deliver high doses of precisely targeted radiation to destroy tumors or lesions
  • Chemotherapy – treatment for certain types of spinal cord tumors, such as spinal cord gliomas

Learn more about spinal tumor treatments.

Meet the Team

Our spinal cord tumor team includes:

Learn more about our spinal cord specialists.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a spinal cord specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.