Spinal Tumors

"Surgery for vertebral tumors is usually very aggressive and complicated. If the resection is performed completely and en bloc, the success rates increase significantly."


What is a spinal tumor?

Spinal tumors are classified according to their location:

Intramedullary tumor: these are groups of cells that come from nervous tissue, such as ependymomas or astrocytomas. They usually grow in such a way that they deform the spinal cord, causing neurological damage (motor and/or sensory deficits). Sometimes they form internal cysts.

Extramedullary tumors: these are the result of a proliferation of the cells that support and maintain the nerve cells in the marrow. Their growth is external to it, but they cause neuronal damage by compression.

These are schwannomas (neurinomas, coming from the nerve sheath) and meningiomas (coming from the covering of the central nervous system or meninges).

A large number of the tumors that appear within the canal can also appear from other tumors located in other parts of the body that release cancer cells that are deposited in the spinal canal (metastasis). They can affect the marrow itself or also on an extramedullary level.


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What are the symptoms of a spinal cord tumor?

Any growth of a mass inside the channel can damage the nervous system, since it is a very small space not predisposed to expand, so any type of tumor, malignant or benign, can cause neurological injury and put the patient's life at risk.

Depending on the location of the lesion, the upper extremities (cervical) or the legs (dorsal and lumbar) will be more affected. In cervical location it can also affect both. Other symptoms may include weakness, urinary or fecal incontinence, changes in sensation, lack of coordination and instability in walking.

Pain can be a symptom caused by a spinal tumor, either locally or radiated. It is usually discomfort that typically worsens at night, in a progressive and persistent way.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Involvement of the upper or lower extremities (depending on the location of the tumor).
  • Weakness.
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence.
  • Alterations in sensitivity.
  • Uncoordination or instability when walking.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have a medullary tumor

How are medullary tumors diagnosed?

Imagen de una resonancia magnética en donde se diagnostica un tumore medular.

Medullary tumors are neoplasms that affect the spine, can affect the bone and its attachments (vertebral or spinal tumor), or that are found in the spinal canal and injure the nerve structures (myelo-radicular tumor).

They are generally diagnosed by means of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), although tomography or scans (CT), PET, etc. are also very useful.

How is the medullary tumor treated?

The treatment of most spinal tumors is their removal, especially when they are benign.

If the diagnosis on the contrary indicates malignancy can also benefit from other adjuvant therapies oncology (chemo or radiotherapy).

The prognosis of the injury will depend on the degree of malignancy and the state in which the patient is.

If a long time elapses before the diagnosis and/or treatment, the symptomatology (paralysis of a limb, sensitivity, etc.) may not be reversible; however, an early diagnosis considerably increases the possibilities of effective treatment and the reversal of symptoms.

Proton therapy for cancer

Proton therapy is the most precise external radiotherapy modality, providing better distribution of radiation dose and therefore less irradiation of healthy tissues.

The Proton Therapy Unit of the Cancer Center Clínica Universidad de Navarra in its Madrid headquarters is the most advanced in Europe and the first in a Cancer Center, with all its healthcare, academic and research support.

Where do we treat it?


Central Nervous System Tumors Area
of the Cancer Center Clínica Universidad de Navarra

In the Central Nervous System Tumors Area we offer maximum safety and efficiency in brain tumor surgery, being the first hospital with a high field magnetic resonance within the operating room.

We have a highly specialized team in the surgery of brain tumors, with more than 15 years of experience.

The individualized treatment of each case by an interdisciplinary team allows us to offer the best alternative to each patient.

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • Integral evaluation of the patient.
  • Cutting edge technology.
  • Expert professionals who are a national reference.

Our team of professionals