Understanding the Different Types of Spinal Tumors

As with other types of tumors, spinal tumors can be benign or cancerous, and they’re uncommon, which is good news. These tumors can grow inside or around your spine, and while most are the result of having cancer in another part of your body, they sometimes develop on their own. 

As a highly respected, board-certified neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Cohen provides expert advanced spinal tumor diagnostic and treatment methods, and he does so with compassion, always taking the time to address your concerns and answer your questions. 

What symptoms might indicate a spinal tumor?

A challenge with spinal tumors is that one of its primary symptoms — back pain — affects nearly 80% of people at some time in their lives. 

However, most back pain is mechanical, meaning it’s caused by movement, whereas spinal tumor pain is typically persistent and nonmechanical, or unrelated to movement. In addition, this type of pain isn’t relieved by getting off your feet and resting. In fact, it can worsen when you lie down. 

Other symptoms that indicate a spinal tumor include:

A patient with a spinal tumor can also suffer more serious symptoms, like bowel or bladder control problems and paralysis. 

More than one type of spinal tumor

One of the most important pieces of information Dr. Cohen determines when he diagnoses a spinal tumor is its type — and there are several — because this is the primary driver of the treatment plan he creates. The major spinal tumor classifications are:

  1. Metastatic spinal tumors originate from cancers at different sites in the body, and these account for the majority of spinal tumors. Some of the most common secondary spinal tumors stem from breast, lung, and kidney cancers. 

A common secondary type of tumor is an extradural tumor, which grows outside of the dura, the spine’s outermost protective membrane. 


  1. Primary tumors develop on their own and they’re divided into three main categories. 



  1. Benign, or noncancerous spinal tumors must still be treated, even though they’re not malignant, because they do put pressure on the spinal nerves, which leads to pain and discomfort.

Spinal tumor type determines treatment 

If Dr. Cohen diagnoses you with a spinal tumor, you’re in the best, most capable hands. He analyzes what type of tumor it is, how fast it’s growing, and learns all he can about your symptoms. Surgery is the solution for these tumors, whether they’re malignant or benign. 

In certain circumstances, a tumor will be so big that Dr. Cohen won’t be able to remove 100% of it, and then he recommends chemotherapy and radiation, which can help shrink or eliminate any remaining tumor remnants. 

After assessing the particulars of your symptoms and the characteristics of your tumor, he may advise that those treatments happen either before or after your surgery. 

Dr. Cohen also performs additional surgical procedures that complement the removal of a spinal tumor to relieve pain.

Spinal decompression not only takes the pressure off tender nerve roots, it helps ensure that your nerves continue working optimally. In some cases, he follows this up with a spinal fusion procedure, which reinforces your spine overall. 

Dr. Cohen is highly skilled in sophisticated minimally invasive surgical techniques, which are associated with faster recovery, smaller incisions, and less scarring, bleeding, pain, and infection risk, among other benefits.

If you suspect you’re experiencing symptoms of a spinal tumor, call our office at 516-231-2849 to schedule either an in-office visit or telemedicine appointment with Dr. Cohen, or book one online.

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