Spinal Cord Cancer

A spinal cord tumor is a growth in the spinal canal or on the bones of the spine. It may cause neurological issues, pain and even paralysis. Spinal cord tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).  Most cancerous spinal cord tumors are secondary cancers. This means they have spread from cancer that started elsewhere in the body.

Tumors that originate in the spine are rare and are usually noncancerous.

Treatment

At Penn State Cancer Institute, we treat the following spinal cord tumors: 

  • Metastatic spine tumors
  • Primary spine tumors
    • Astrocytoma 
    • Ependymoma 
    • Meningiomas 
    • Schwannomas or neurofibromas
  • Peripheral nerve tumors

Treatments Offered

Your treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or a combination. We offer several surgical options for spinal cord cancer, including: 

  • Surgical decompression
  • Surgical fusion

We also offer alternatives to traditional surgery, including: 

  • Laser ablation
  • Stereotactic body radiation

Care Team

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.

Dawit Aregawi, MD Dawit Aregawi, MD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Joseph Drabick, MD Joseph Drabick, MD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Elana Farace, PhD, MA Elana Farace, PhD, MA Neuropsychologist View Researcher Profile
Michael Glantz, MD, PhD Michael Glantz, MD, PhD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Robert Harbaugh, MD Robert Harbaugh, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Kimberly Harbaugh, MD Kimberly Harbaugh, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD Heath Mackley, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
G. Timothy Reiter, MD G. Timothy Reiter, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Elias Rizk, MD, MSc Elias Rizk, MD, MSc Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Jennifer Rosenberg, MD Jennifer Rosenberg, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematologist/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Michael Sather, MD Michael Sather, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Leonard Tuanquin, MD Leonard Tuanquin, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Henry Wagner Jr., MD Henry Wagner Jr., MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Brad Zacharia, MD, MS Brad Zacharia, MD, MS Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
James McInerney, MD James McInerney, MD View Researcher Profile

Locations

At this time, no locations can be found. Search our location directory here.

Clinical Trials

Groups, Classes and Support

The spinal cord injury support group is open to those with spinal cord injuries, their families and support persons. The group allows an opportunity for support, socialization and education. Join us the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.

Location

Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital cafeteria
1135 Old West Chocolate Avenue
Hummelstown, PA 17036

Please contact Nancy Lokey for more information.

Prevention and Screening

According to the American Cancer Society, there are no known ways to prevent most spinal cord tumors. Limiting radiation exposure may reduce your risk. Uncontrollable risk factors include family history and certain medical conditions. 

There is currently no recommended screening for spinal cord tumors in people with no symptoms.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

A spinal cord tumor is a growth in the spinal canal or on the bones of the spine.

Symptoms

Signs of spinal cord tumors can come on gradually or happen suddenly. The symptoms include: 
  • Back pain, particularly pain that worsens at night
  • Less sensitivity to cold, heat or pain
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function
  • Muscle weakness in various parts of the body 
  • Pain that radiates from your back to other parts of the body
  • Reduced sensation in your arms or legs
  • Trouble walking

Diagnosis

Spinal cord tumors may be diagnosed using one or more of the following tests:
  • A physical exam
  • Blood test
  • Imaging tests, such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Urine test
  • Tumor biopsy

Spinal Cord Cancer

A spinal cord tumor is a growth in the spinal canal or on the bones of the spine. It may cause neurological issues, pain and even paralysis. Spinal cord tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).  Most cancerous spinal cord tumors are secondary cancers. This means they have spread from cancer that started elsewhere in the body.

Tumors that originate in the spine are rare and are usually noncancerous.

At Penn State Cancer Institute, we treat the following spinal cord tumors: 

  • Metastatic spine tumors
  • Primary spine tumors
    • Astrocytoma 
    • Ependymoma 
    • Meningiomas 
    • Schwannomas or neurofibromas
  • Peripheral nerve tumors

Treatments Offered

Your treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or a combination. We offer several surgical options for spinal cord cancer, including: 

  • Surgical decompression
  • Surgical fusion

We also offer alternatives to traditional surgery, including: 

  • Laser ablation
  • Stereotactic body radiation

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.

Dawit Aregawi, MD Dawit Aregawi, MD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Joseph Drabick, MD Joseph Drabick, MD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Elana Farace, PhD, MA Elana Farace, PhD, MA Neuropsychologist View Researcher Profile
Michael Glantz, MD, PhD Michael Glantz, MD, PhD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Robert Harbaugh, MD Robert Harbaugh, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Kimberly Harbaugh, MD Kimberly Harbaugh, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD Heath Mackley, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
G. Timothy Reiter, MD G. Timothy Reiter, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Elias Rizk, MD, MSc Elias Rizk, MD, MSc Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Jennifer Rosenberg, MD Jennifer Rosenberg, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematologist/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Michael Sather, MD Michael Sather, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Leonard Tuanquin, MD Leonard Tuanquin, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Henry Wagner Jr., MD Henry Wagner Jr., MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Brad Zacharia, MD, MS Brad Zacharia, MD, MS Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
James McInerney, MD James McInerney, MD View Researcher Profile
At this time, no locations can be found. Search our location directory here.

The spinal cord injury support group is open to those with spinal cord injuries, their families and support persons. The group allows an opportunity for support, socialization and education. Join us the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.

Location

Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital cafeteria
1135 Old West Chocolate Avenue
Hummelstown, PA 17036

Please contact Nancy Lokey for more information.

According to the American Cancer Society, there are no known ways to prevent most spinal cord tumors. Limiting radiation exposure may reduce your risk. Uncontrollable risk factors include family history and certain medical conditions. 

There is currently no recommended screening for spinal cord tumors in people with no symptoms.

A spinal cord tumor is a growth in the spinal canal or on the bones of the spine.

Symptoms

Signs of spinal cord tumors can come on gradually or happen suddenly. The symptoms include: 
  • Back pain, particularly pain that worsens at night
  • Less sensitivity to cold, heat or pain
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function
  • Muscle weakness in various parts of the body 
  • Pain that radiates from your back to other parts of the body
  • Reduced sensation in your arms or legs
  • Trouble walking

Diagnosis

Spinal cord tumors may be diagnosed using one or more of the following tests:
  • A physical exam
  • Blood test
  • Imaging tests, such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Urine test
  • Tumor biopsy