Spinal Cancer Stages


A woman talking to her doctorSpinal cancer stages and grades are based on a standardized system that can be useful for medical professionals when discussing the extent of a cancer’s spread beyond its site of origin. Along with many other factors, this information is considered when determining the most appropriate course of treatment for a patient.

Tumors that develop within the spinal anatomy differ from those that originate in other areas of the body in several key respects. For instance, primary spinal tumors rarely spread beyond the spine and central nervous system. Therefore, while other cancers are usually classified by stages, there are no formal spinal cancer stages. Instead, primary spinal cancer is usually assigned a grade based on the characteristics of the tumor as follows:

  • Grade I – The tumor is slow growing, unlikely to spread to nearby tissue and may be removed through surgery
  • Grade II – The tumor appears to be slow growing, but can potentially spread to nearby tissue.
  • Grade III – The tumor grows quickly and is likely to spread into nearby tissue.
  • Grade IV – The tumor grows and spreads very quickly.

On the other hand, metastatic spinal tumors, which are far more prevalent than primary spine tumors, have spread to the spine after originating in another part of the body, such as a lung, breast, prostate or colon. Like most other forms of cancer, metastatic spinal tumors are usually assessed and assigned a stage using the TNM (tumor, node, metastasis) staging system.

In the Neuro-Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, we treat patients with all grades and stages of spinal cancer. Our multispecialty team of experts collaboratively develops a highly individualized treatment plan for each patient. After taking into account a patient’s unique circumstances, we make evidence-based recommendations of the therapies we believe will be most effective for the patient’s specific grade or stage of spinal cancer.

No referral is required to consult with the oncologists specializing in spine cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center. To schedule an appointment, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.