Spinal cord consult

Mayo Clinic's spinal tumor experts provide comprehensive care for adults and children with spinal tumors. A spinal tumor is a growth that develops within your spinal cord or within the bones of your spine. It may be cancerous or noncancerous.

Tumors that affect the bones of the spine (vertebrae) are known as vertebral tumors.

Tumors that begin within the spinal cord itself are called spinal cord tumors. There are two main types of tumors that may affect the spinal cord:

  • Intramedullary tumors begin in the cells within the spinal cord itself, such as astrocytomas or ependymomas.
  • Extramedullary tumors develop within the supporting network of cells around the spinal cord. Although they don't begin within the spinal cord itself, these types of tumors may affect spinal cord function by causing spinal cord compression and other problems. Examples of extramedullary tumors that can affect the spinal cord include schwannomas, meningiomas and neurofibromas.

Tumors from other parts of the body can spread (metastasize) to the bones of the spine, the supporting network around the spinal cord or, in rare cases, the spinal cord itself.

Spinal cord tumors or growths of any kind can lead to pain, neurological problems and sometimes paralysis. Whether cancerous or not, a spinal cord tumor can be life-threatening and cause permanent disability.

Your Mayo Clinic care team

Mayo Clinic's world-renowned spinal tumor teams have been treating and removing spinal cord tumors for more than 100 years. These teams include neuroradiologists, neuropathologists, neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, neurologists, rehabilitation specialists and other professionals who work together to provide exactly the care each patient needs.

Having all this expertise in a single place, focused on you, means that you're not just getting one opinion — your care is discussed among the team, your test results are available quickly, appointments are scheduled in coordination, and the most highly specialized spinal tumor experts in the world are all working together for you.

What might take months to accomplish elsewhere can typically be done in a matter of days at Mayo Clinic.

Advanced diagnosis & treatment

Mayo Clinic patients have access to the latest imaging and diagnostic tools available, and there's even a long history of Mayo Clinic scientists developing those cutting-edge technologies for patient care. With state-of-the-art research and laboratory facilities, Mayo Clinic experts are constantly seeking new medical knowledge and individual-driven innovations for people with spinal tumors.

Mayo Clinic's Neuro-Oncology Program research on spinal cord tumors includes finding ways to use technology for earlier diagnosis and to improve surgical techniques for tumor removal, avoid late complications related to tumor removal, identify which tumors are safe to monitor rather than removal, and determine how to best treat spinal cord tumors.

Spinal tumor treatment options depend on the type of tumor you have, as well as its size and location. Treatment for a spinal tumor may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other medications.

If surgery is the most appropriate treatment, you want to be in the hands of experienced surgeons who perform these operations frequently. Mayo Clinic is one of the highest volume neurosurgical centers in the country. Depending on the location of the tumor, thoracic, orthopedic, cardiac, general and plastic surgeons may be involved. At Mayo Clinic, it's not unusual to have five different surgeons in the operating room working together and using the latest technological advances available to them.

Mayo Clinic is launching a Proton Beam Therapy Program, opening in summer 2015 in Minnesota and 2016 in Arizona. Unlike most others in the United States, Mayo Clinic's proton beam will feature intensity-modulated proton beam therapy exclusively. This represents an advance over traditional radiotherapy because the radiation beam is targeted only to the tumor, better sparing surrounding healthy tissue from harm.

After surgery, your Mayo Clinic subspecialized care team may include experts trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation to offer a full range of rehabilitation and recovery options and determine the individualized plan that's best for you.

Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, ranks No. 1 for neurology and neurosurgery in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, is ranked among the Best Hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, is ranked high performing for neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center meets strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, recognizing scientific excellence and a multispecialty approach focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clinic is also part of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a group of scientists throughout the U.S. and Canada who work together to conduct clinical trials and reduce the impact of cancer.

Nov. 22, 2014
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