Benign Spinal Tumors of the Bone

Benign spinal tumors are masses that do not contain cancerous cells, meaning the tumor will not spread through the body or invade other systems. However, these tumors can put pressure on nearby structures if they are too close or are growing. Numerous treatment options are available that can relieve the discomfort caused by these tumors, and in many cases, allow for complete tumor removal.

About Benign Spinal Tumors of the Bone

Benign spinal tumors are masses that do not contain cancerous cells, meaning the tumor will not spread through the body or invade other systems. However, these tumors can put pressure on nearby structures if they are too close or are growing. Numerous treatment options are available that can relieve the discomfort caused by these tumors, and in many cases, allow for complete tumor removal.

Common Symptoms of Benign Spinal Tumors of the Bone

There are a few types of benign spinal bone tumors: osteoid osteoma, spinal hemangioma, aneurysmal bone cyst and giant cell tumors. These tumors grow in the bones of the spine and are often asymptomatic.  When symptomatic,  the most common symptoms seen are:

  • Pain in your neck or back in the area the tumor is growing
  • Weakness or numbness, in your limbs
  • Difficulty walking (if the tumor is pressing on nerves that send impulses to your legs)
  • Tingling in your extremities

In rare instances, tumors can cause bowel or bladder control problems.

Diagnosis of Benign Spinal Tumors of the Bone

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms or suspect you may have a spinal bone tumor, it’s important to seek a diagnosis for the sensations you’re experiencing. Your doctor will take a full medical history and perform a physical exam and a neurological exam. You will then be referred for imaging; this can include X-rays, a CT scan or an MRI. These images of your spine allow doctors to determine if there is a tumor of any type present.

If a tumor is found, additional testing such as a bone scan or PET CT may be ordered to get more information about the tumor.  Sometimes, a biopsy will be performed. This requires using a large-gauge needle to obtain some of the cells of the tumor for analysis.

Treatment Options for Benign Spinal Tumors of the Bone

Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will develop a treatment plan for you. Most benign bone tumors do not require surgery and will be treated conservatively. This can involve no treatment at all or conservative treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medicine and physical therapy. In rare cases, when more aggressive treatment is needed, treatment plans can be complex. Surgery is often combined with radiation or a catheter-based method of cutting off the tumor’s blood supply, called embolization.