Spinal Cord Tumors

Also known as: intramedullary tumors, extramedullary tumors, metastatic tumors

What are spinal cord tumors?

If a tumor grows within (~ 10%), in the tissues around, or spreads from a different site to the spinal cord region, it is known as a spinal cord tumor. They are less common than brain tumors and tend to occur in older children and adolescents. Many of the tumors that start in the spinal cord begin in its surrounding tissues. (e.g meningiomas, ependymomas etc). Less commonly they start in cells in the spinal cord. Often tumors from other parts of the body spread to the spinal cord. If the tumor starts in the cells around the spinal cord, it’s known as Extramedullary. Tumors that grow in the spinal cord are called Intramedullary.
 

What causes spinal cord tumors?

No one is certain why spinal cord tumors develop. It appears that defective genes, some genetic disorders, viruses, exposure to some chemicals or hazardous substances and abnormalities in how the immune system works may all play a role.
 

What are the symptoms of spinal cord tumors?

Symptoms of spinal cord tumors can range from none at all to many, including pain, numbness, weakness, and loss of bladder or bowel control.
 

What are spinal cord tumor care options?

A benign tumor that causes no symptoms might not need treatment. Some tumors may require surgical removal, and cancerous tumors may require follow-up radiation treatment or chemotherapy to rid the body of cancer. At Nicklaus Children's hospital Neurologists, Neurosurgeons, Oncologists, and a team of other Specialists are available to diagnose and deliver the best care plan needed for your child.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/6/2018 2:47:13 PM

From the Newsdesk

Haley's Success Story
07/03/2018 — Growing up, Haley Gantt suffered from scoliosis. She had to wear a back brace to prevent her curve from worsening, but unfortunately, she was later told that a spinal fusion surgery would have to be considered because the brace had failed to prevent the curve from progressing. She fought hard and got through it. An accomplished basketball player, Haley is now on her way to playing Division II basketball for Biola University in Southern California.
April Patient of the Month: Lucky
04/09/2018 — Lucky started going to physical therapy when he was two because of the delays with sitting up and rolling over. His physical therapist noticed that the problem was not muscular but skeletal, a condition that she couldn't treat. The pediatrician told Janie and Greg, Lucky’s parents, about Nicklaus Children's Hospital. When Janie and Greg visited Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, they met Dr. Harry L Shufflebarger, Pediatric Spinal Surgery Director. He performed the necessary surgeries and now Lucky can enjoy a healthy life.

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Harry L. Shufflebarger, MD is the Director of the the Division of Spinal Surgery at Nicklaus Children's Hospital.