The two most common spinal cord tumors are ependymomas and astrocytomas. Ependymomas are slow growing and usually benign growths on the lining of the spinal cord and parts of the brain. Astrocytomas are cancerous growths made up of star-shaped cells.
Symptoms of ependymomas appear only after the tumor has been present a long time. The most common symptom is pain along the spine. People with this condition often do not see the doctor until they have lived with the discomfort for many years.
Pain from these growths is more frequent in the early morning and is more general than local. Other symptoms vary based on where the tumor is located. Tumors in the neck often involve the arms, while tumors in the middle of the spine cause sensory or motor changes in the stomach or legs.
The earlier these tumors are found and removed, the better the chance of their being controlled and not spreading.
Anyone with unexplained back pain or unexpected pain elsewhere should see a doctor.
These types of tumors are usually removed with surgery.