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Surgery for Spinal Tumors

Treatment for a spinal cord tumor is different for everyone and depends on the type of tumor, its location, and your overall health. The goal of treatment is to reduce or prevent nerve damage from pressure on (compression of) the spinal cord.

Treatment options can include:

  • Surgery to remove all or part of the tumor
  • Radiation therapy, which is sometimes used in addition to surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Corticosteroid medications to lessen swelling

Some types of spinal tumors require radiation of the whole spine. This procedure, called craniospinal radiation, can lead to anemia and other side effects. When there is radiation to the lumbar spine, fertility needs to be considered.

Types of spinal cord tumors:

  • Spinal cord tumors affect many different areas and come in many different types, including:
  • Leukemia or lymphoma, cancers of the blood
  • Myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow
  • Medulloblastomas, which start in the brain and metastasize to the spine, and are most common in children
  • Gliomas or gangliogliomas, cancers that form in cells called glial cells (glial cells also include neurons)
  • Chordomas, which form in the spine and can push against it
  • Schwannomas, which start inside the peripheral nerves
  • Meningiomas, which start in the tissues around the spinal cord (meninges)