Tumours affecting the spine are not common, but unfortunately not rare either.
The most common form of tumour involving the spine is a secondary tumour that has spread from a cancerous growth elsewhere in the body. The most common site of origin in males is a carcinoma of the prostate. In females, it is a carcinoma of the breast. Other sites of primary tumour include lung, kidney and bowel, and the white blood cell system (myeloma).
Tumours may arise in bony spinal elements as primary tumours, but are relatively uncommon.
Intradural tumours may arise in structures outside the spinal cord, meningioma from the meninges, nerve sheath tumour from the nerve roots, myxopapillary ependymoma from the conus medullaris and filum terminale.
Tumours of the spinal cord itself may be benign, such as most ependymomas, low grade astrocytomas; intermediate, such as anaplastic astrocytomas; or aggressive, such as glioblastoma.
Surgery is usually required and may be definitive treatment. Tumours involving the vertebrae may require reconstruction after excision.
In many cases, surgery will be followed by additional treatment, such as radiotherapy with or without additional chemotherapy.
Vascular (blood vessel) pathologies may also occur in the intradural compartment, and may require surgery, or endovascular treatment.