Spinal cord tumor (primary)

A spinal cord tumor can occur in different locations within the spine; the vertebra, the bone, the thin covering of the spinal cord (dura), the spinal cord or nerve cell roots. Primary spinal cord tumors are usually benign, but can cause symptoms. If the tumor is a spread from another form of cancer, we call this a metastasis. There's a link at the bottom of this page with more information about spinal metastases.


Symptoms of a spinal cord tumor may vary depending on the location of the tumor in the spine and the type of tumor. The tumor may compress nerves and vessels in the spine which can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Weakness in arms and/or legs
  • Coordination problems
  • Numbness
  • Loss of bowel or bladder function (incontinence)


To determine the type of spinal cord tumor usually a biopsy is needed; a small piece of the tumor is removed and examined via either surgery or a needle and local anaesthesia. If the tumor is compressing nerves and/or vessels, surgery is needed. It's sometimes necessary to stabilise or reconstruct the spine.

Within UNCH Leids University Medical Center is specialised in diagnosing and treating patients with primary spinal cord tumors. More information (in Dutch) can be found on NVvN's website.

Ons advies