Risk factors for spinal cancer

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science.

This page was updated on June 7, 2022.

The causes of spinal tumors are still largely unknown. Although some genetic conditions may contribute to the development of spinal cancer, the risk factors are much less defined for spinal cancer than for other cancers in the body.

Known risk factors include:

Prior history of cancer: Cancers that may be more likely to spread to the spine include those of the breast, lung and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma.

Compromised immune system: Some people whose immune systems are compromised develop spinal cord lymphomas.

Hereditary disorders: Von Hippel-Lindau disease and Neurofibromatosis (NF2) are inherited conditions that are sometimes associated with tumors in the spinal cord.

Exposures: Exposure to radiation therapy or industrial chemicals may increase the likelihood of developing spinal cancer.

Next topic: What are the symptoms of spinal cancer?

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