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Spinal Cord Tumor

Early diagnosis can be an important factor in the outcome of tumors in the spinal cord. Primary spinal cord tumors — tumors that originate in the spine rather than spread to the spine from elsewhere in the body — are usually benign. They are so rare that they account for only a half of one percent of all newly diagnosed tumors. Malignant primary tumors of the spinal cord are even less common.

Most spinal cord cancers are metastatic or secondary cancers, meaning they arise from cancers that have spread to the spinal cord. Cancers that may spread to the spine include lung, breast, prostate, head and neck, gynecologic, gastrointestinal, thyroid, melanoma, renal cell carcinoma and others.

Our Approach to Spinal Cord Tumor

UCSF is home to one of the largest centers for spinal tumor care in the U.S., treating more than 10,000 patients each year. Our team of specialists includes neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, oncologists and radiation oncologists. This breadth of expertise helps us deliver the best possible outcomes for even the most difficult cases. We offer minimally invasive surgery as well as noninvasive radiosurgery, which delivers high doses of radiation directly to tumors without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. We also provide opportunities to participate in clinical trials of possible new treatments.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • Best in Northern California for cancer care (tie)

  • usnews-neurology

    Best in California and No. 2 in the nation for neurology & neurosurgery

  • usnews-orthopedics

    One of the nation's best for orthopedic care

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.