Spinal Cord Tumours

What is a spinal cord tumour?

A spinal cord tumour is a mass of overgrown, abnormal tissue that arises from the spinal canal or spinal bones. A spinal cord tumour (intradural tumour) typically develops in the spinal cord or the covering, also known as the dura.

Spinal Vertebral Tumours

Types of Tumours:

  • Lymphomas
  • Multiple Myelomas
  • Metastasis (migration of a tumour from its origin to another) to the vertebral body that causes compression to the spinal cord.


  • Prostate Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Colon Cancer

Spinal Vertebral Treatment

Our approach is multimodal in the treatment of patients diagnosed with spinal cord tumours. This includes specialists such as spine surgeons, oncologists, physicians, physiotherapists and psychologists.

Dr Bomela’s approach:

  • Clinical examination and investigation
  • Biopsy of the spinal area (lumbar, thoracic or cervical)
  • Diagnosis of the type of tumour.

Depending on the type of tumour, Dr Bomela may:

    • Refer the patient to an oncologist for chemotherapy, radiation or combination therapy.
    • Suggest the patient undergo spinal cord surgery (ONLY if clinically indicated)

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of spinal cord tumours vary from patient to patient. Symptoms may change based on the size of the tumour because the tumour is still capable of growing.

Symptoms include:

Pain radiating from the lower back

Pain radiating from the tumour

Throbbing chronic back pain

Loss of urinary and bowel function

Trouble walking

Weakness in the limbs (arms and legs)

How do you treat spinal cord tumours?

Normally, surgery aims to eliminate the spinal tumour, which means no trace of it should be left behind. Without treatment, the health of the spinal cord and nerves are threatened. Sometimes the simple watch-and-wait method is all that is required to begin noticing symptoms of the tumour. In the interim, Dr Bomela performs MRI and CT scans periodically to monitor the tumour.

High-tech microscopes used during microsurgical procedures make it possible to remove spinal cord tumours without damaging the spinal cord and surrounding nerve roots. Surgery is possible because hard-to-reach areas are accessible using advanced imaging technology and tiny surgical equipment. In some instances, high-frequency sound waves are emitted to break the tumour apart so the pieces can be removed surgically.

It can take weeks to recover from spinal surgery. The patient may experience transient sensation loss, bleeding and nerve tissue damage.


1. Can Dr Bomela treat a spinal cord tumour

The patient has a chance of recovering faster when the entire tumour has been surgically removed. However, this is often not feasible because nerve damage is one side effect.

2. Will an MRI pick up a spinal cord tumour?

An MRI is the best way to diagnose spinal cord tumours and tumours found in the surrounding nerves. A contrast dye is injected intravenously to highlight structures and tissues suspected of housing tumours.

3. Is it possible for a spinal cord tumour to affect brain function?

If the tumour develops in the spinal canal, it can prevent the free flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). As a result, fluid pools in the brain's ventricles, raising intracranial pressure.