A metastatic tumor is a cancerous (malignant) growth that spreads from another part of the body. A tumor near the spinal cord or within the bones of the spine (vertebrae) can affect the nerves in the area of the tumor, causing pain, neurological problems, and even paralysis. Back pain is the most common symptom of a spine tumor, but pain may spread to the hips, legs, feet or arms and may become more severe over time. Malignant tumors grow more quickly than benign tumors.
UPMC neurosurgeons typically recommend surgical removal of metastatic tumors. This can be done with minimally invasive microsurgery or with stereotactic radiosurgery, depending on the size, location, and type of tumor.
As the tumor grows, it can affect the spinal cord, nerve roots, blood vessels or the bones of the spine. Various signs and symptoms may develop depending on the location and type of spinal tumor.
Symptoms may include:
The doctor will perform a complete medical history and both general physical and neurologic exams. If a spine tumor is suspected, an MRI, CT scan, myelogram, and/or biopsy may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
UPMC neurosurgeons typically recommend resection, or surgical removal of spine tumors. Newer techniques and instruments allow our surgeons to reach tumors that were once considered inaccessible. High-powered microscopes used in microsurgery make it easier to distinguish tumor from healthy tissue. However, even with these advanced techniques, not all tumors can be removed completely. In those cases, surgery may be accompanied by chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
UPMC neurosurgeons may also treat metastatic tumors with stereotactic spine radiosurgery, which is a minimally invasive technique that uses highly focused beams of radiation to target spinal tumors. The beams destroy the tissue that a surgeon would otherwise need to remove with a scalpel during a traditional operation. The precision of this surgery results in minimal damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, and no recovery time.
How can we help you?
Schedule anappointment >
Ask a question >
Request our expertopinion >
1-877-986-9862(within the U.S.)
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
| Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com