Spinal Cancer Information
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Video: What Are Spinal Column Tumors?Learn about spinal column tumors, including their symptoms and potential effects on the body, in addition to treatments that may be used to eliminate these tumors.
Primary vs. Metastatic Spinal Tumors
CTCA neurosurgeon Dr. Clinton Baird explains what a primary spinal tumor is and how it differs from a metastatic spinal tumor.
What is Spinal Cancer?
Primary spinal cancer develops from cells within the spinal cord or from its surrounding structures (the bones, tissues, fluid, or nerves of the spine).
Part of the central nervous system (CNS), the spinal cord is a column of nerve tissue which extends from the base of the brain down the back. It is surrounded by three protective membranes and is enclosed within the vertebrae. The spinal cord carries important messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
Spinal tumors are classified according to their location on the spine. Most tumors of the spine are metastatic tumors, which have spread to the spine from another location in the body, such as the breast, prostate, or kidney.
Other Neurological Cancers
Aside from tumors of the spinal cord or column, cancer can begin in, or spread to, other areas of the central nervous system, such as the brain and the peripheral nerves.
Primary brain cancer develops from cells within the brain. Primary brain tumors are rare. Metastatic brain cancer, or cancer that has spread to the brain from another location in the body, is more common.
Spinal Cancer Incidence Information
In 2010, an estimated 22,020 new cases of primary brain and other nervous system neoplasms were diagnosed in the United States (National Comprehensive Cancer Network, NCCN). Spinal cancer is a relatively rare condition, representing 2-4 percent of all primary CNS tumors (NCCN).
Metastatic disease to the central nervous system occurs much more frequently, with an estimated incidence of about 10 times that of primary tumors.
Next Topic: Risk Factors for Spinal Cancer