Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Understanding Primary and Secondary Spinal Tumors

Tumors are abnormal growths of tissue. They form when tissue cells grow and divide faster than usual, creating a mass in one area of your body. 

Although tumors are often linked to cancer, not all types indicate cancer. Many types of tumors are noncancerous, and some are precancerous. In other cases, abnormal masses are diagnosed as different types of lesions and not tumors at all.

Tumors can develop almost anywhere in the body, including your spine. Spinal tumors are one of the rarest causes of back pain, but they can pose a significant health risk to those who have them.

George Kakoulides, MD, and our surgical team specialize in spinal tumors. We offer comprehensive diagnostic services and minimally invasive spine surgery to treat your tumor and relieve your symptoms.

Different types of spinal tumors

Spinal tumors range in size, shape, location, and severity. However, they all fall into two main categories: primary spinal tumors and secondary spinal tumors. If you suspect you might have a tumor, it’s time to learn more about the different types.

Primary spinal tumors

Primary spinal tumors start in your spine. They can form inside your spinal cord or around it, and they may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Anyone can develop a primary spinal tumor, but they are quite rare. In fact, primary spinal tumors make up only 4-8% of all central nervous system lesions. Most of the time, benign primary spinal tumors cause symptoms like spinal instability and canal compromise.

Secondary spinal tumors

While primary tumors start in your spine, secondary spinal tumors develop when cancer metastasizes or spreads to your spine from somewhere else in your body.

These secondary tumors are usually malignant, and up to 70% of people with metastatic cancer have spinal tumors. The symptoms of secondary spinal tumors can be similar to those of primary tumors, but some people experience more vague symptoms.

Expert care for spinal tumors

Both primary and secondary spinal tumors are complex. They can cause varying symptoms depending on the nerves that are affected by the growth, along with back pain.

Dr. Kakolides specializes in diagnosing and treating spinal tumors to relieve your symptoms. He reviews your medical history and any current health problems, such as cancer. He uses medical imaging tests, like an MRI or CT scan, to identify the precise location of your tumor.

If you have a benign primary tumor, it’s most likely an intradural-extramedullary tumor or an intramedullary tumor. Intradural-extramedullary tumors are outside your spinal cord but inside the dura, which is the spinal cord’s covering, and intramedullary tumors are inside your spinal cord. 

Small, noncancerous tumors without bothersome side effects may not need immediate removal. Dr. Kakolides may recommend watchful waiting at first. If the tumor changes, it may be removed and treated with surgery.

If you have a malignant secondary tumor, it could be an extradural tumor. These tumors make up nearly 55% of all spinal tumors, and they can be treated with a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

The best spine surgery for you depends on many factors. Decompression is a type of surgery to remove all or part of your spinal tumor. Removing the tumor takes the pressure off your spinal cord and nerve roots to relieve pain.

In some cases, a spinal tumor can fracture vertebrae near it. Dr. Kakoulides may perform a minimally invasive procedure like kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty to stabilize the fracture and reduce pain. If you suffered spinal instability due to your tumor, spinal stabilization surgery adds strength with metal instrumentation and bone grafts.

Want to learn more about the symptoms and types of spinal tumors? Contact us online or call our Huntington, Smithtown, or West Islip, New York, offices nearest you today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Effective Treatments for a Herniated Cervical Disc

Are you bothered by neck pain and stiffness? Have you noticed tingling or weakness in your arms? It could be a herniated cervical disc — and you don’t have to live with the discomfort. Learn about the top treatments for herniated cervical discs.

Are Spine Fracture Symptoms Obvious?

Back pain is common. But with so many possible causes, finding out what’s wrong isn’t always easy. Sudden, intense back pain could indicate spine fracture — particularly if you’re an older adult. Learn the signs so you can find the proper treatment.

Indications That a Discectomy May Be Recommended

Discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure to treat damaged spinal discs. It’s a common surgery for severely herniated discs, but when is the right time to consider it? Learn more about herniated discs and when discectomy could be right for you.

What Is ACDF and Am I a Candidate for It?

Neck pain that doesn’t go away can erode your quality of life. If you’ve tried conservative treatments without relief, it might be time to consider a minimally invasive surgery like ACDF. Find out how it works and what it can treat here.