What Is a Spine Tumor?

A spine tumor is a benign or malignant tumor that occurs anywhere in the spine. The tumor may be found in the cervical spine (neck), but is more commonly encountered in the thoracic (middle of the back) and lumbar (lower back) regions. The tumor may be detected in the spinal column or in the spinal cord and nerve roots.

In the spinal column, the tumor is typically found in one of your vertebrae, the bones that make up your spine. A tumor that originates in the spine itself is called a primary spine tumor. A tumor that originates in another part of your body and migrates to your spine is called a secondary spine tumor. A spine tumor rarely affects the intervertebral disc.

Signs and symptoms

A spine tumor typically causes pain in the spine itself. The pain can be in the cervical spine (neck), the thoracic spine (middle of the back), or lumbar spine (lower back). The tumor can also cause pain, numbness, or weakness in your arms or legs by putting pressure on the nerves of your spinal cord. Unlike the pain associated with degenerative disc disease, the pain from a spine tumor is often experienced while resting at night and is often felt in the middle of the back.

Risk factors

Rick factors for a spine tumor include:

  • Increased age
  • Known history of cancer
  • Familial/genetic history
  • Smoking

If you have a history of cancer and experience pain or weakness in your spine, or if you are older, you smoke, or you have a family history of cancer, see your doctor. You may have a spine tumor. Children who have a distinct, focused pain in their spine should also be examined.


While some tumors can be prevented by promoting a healthy lifestyle, which reduces the risk of a tumor, not all tumors are understood well enough to guide preventative measures. Smoking, however, is associated with spine tumors. Early detection of a spine tumor is the best known step to successful treatment.

We can help

If you have been diagnosed with a spine tumor or suspect you may have one, please call The Mount Sinai Health System at 1-800-MD-SINAI (800-637-4624). We are conveniently located in the Upper East Side of New York City.

Contact Us

Tel: 1-800-MD-SINAI (800-637-4624)