Types of Spinal Tumors

Written by Bassem A. Georgy, MD

Spinal tumors are classified primarily as being benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). While some types of spinal tumors are more common than others, in general, spinal tumors are not common occurrences.

The illustration below features the three regions of spinal column bone; posterior or rear, middle, and anterior or front. In general, anterior tumors tend to be malignant and posterior tumors tend to be benign. (1)


Posterior, middle and anterior spinal column

To determine the type of spinal tumor, tumor cells (taken during biopsy) are microscopically examined.

Types of spinal tumors include bone, vascular (blood vessels), cartilage, and plasma (white blood cells). Read on to learn more about benign and malignant spinal tumors. Benign spinal tumors are listed first followed by malignant types.

Benign bone tumors:

Giant Cell Tumor

Hemangioma

Osteoid Osteoma

Osteoblastoma

Malignant bone tumors:

Chordoma

Osteosarcoma

Malignant cartilage tumor:

Chondrosarcoma

Malignant plasma cell tumors:

Plasmacytoma is cancer of the white blood cells (plasma cells) that may become Multiple Myeloma. While similar in some respects, multiple myeloma is more serious.

Lymphomas are cancer of the body's lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system produces lymph, a body fluid that helps to fight infection. As with other types of cancer, lymph cells grow uncontrollably leading to tissue destruction that may spread to the spine (or other places in the body). Spinal lymphomas are a non-Hodgkin's type which means spinal lymphomas do not contain the Hodgkin's-specific cell (called Reed Steinberg; characterized by more than one nuclei or control center).

Ewing's Sarcoma

 

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Diagnosis of a Spinal Tumor