A spinal tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue within or surrounding the spinal column. These cells grow and multiply uncontrollably, seemingly unchecked by the mechanisms that control normal cells. Spinal tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Primary tumors originate in the spine or spinal cord, and metastatic or secondary tumors result from cancer spreading from another site to the spine.

Intramedullary – These tumors grow inside the spinal cord. They typically derive from glial or ependymal cells (a type of glial cell) that are found throughout the interstitium of the spinal cord. Frequency of occurrence in this location is approximately 5%. Astrocytomas and ependymomas are the two most common types. Astrocytomas are more common in the thoracic region followed by the cervical. Ependymomas are most common in the filum (bottom region of the spinal cord), followed by the cervical region. They are often benign (compared to intracranial), but can be difficult to remove. Intramedullary lipomas are rare congenital tumors most commonly located in the cervicothoracic spinal cord.