Spinal cancer

Several types of tumour can start in the spinal cord. If you are diagnosed with spinal cancer or spinal cord tumours, you will have immediate access to our world-leading consultants and state-of-the-art hospitals.

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Spinal imagery

About spinal cancer

Most cancer in the spine arises within the bones, having spread from elsewhere in the body. Occasionally tumours may arise directly from the tissues of the nervous system. Both benign and malignant spinal cancers cause signs and symptoms that require treatment.

Types of spinal cancer


Ependymomas belong to a group of tumours called gliomas. They can start in the spinal cord or brain.

Nerve-sheath tumours

A type of tumour that originates in the central nervous system (CNS) in the spinal cord.

Need to know 

Symptoms of spinal cancer may include:

  • back or neck pain that does not get better with rest
  • numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs
  • a change in normal bowel or bladder habits
  • loss of appetite, unplanned weight loss, nausea, vomiting or generally feeling unwell

You will have imaging tests to diagnose spinal cancer. This may include:

  • an MRI scan of the brain and spine
  • CT scan
  • X-ray

Treatment options will depend on your age, general health and the position, size and type of the tumour you have. They may include:

  • Steroid injections to help control the symptoms.
  • Surgery. Your consultant will attempt to remove the entire tumour, or as much of it as possible (debulking surgery).
  • Radiotherapy. This may be used after surgery or as the main treatment if surgery is not possible.
  • Anti-cancer drugs such as chemotherapy.


Our locations

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

170 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7HA London
SPECIALIST UNIT  London Neurosurgery Partnership

SPECIALIST UNIT London Neurosurgery Partnership

78 Harley Street W1G 7HJ London
The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.