A spinal tumor is a growth of abnormal cells that develops within the spinal canal or within the bones of the spine. The tumors that begin in the bones of the spine (vertebrae) are called vertebral tumors. The tumors that develop within the spinal cord are referred to as spinal cord tumors. There are two subtypes of spinal cord tumors that can both affect the function of the spine.
- Intramedullary tumors originate in the cells within the spinal cord itself such as astrocytomas or ependymomas.
- Extramedullary tumors develop in the cells around the spinal cord, but often affect spinal cord function. These tumors may be related to schwannomas, meningiomas and neurofibromas.
Tumors from other parts of the body can metastasize, or spread, to the vertebrae or the spinal cord.