How Common Are Spinal Cord Tumors?
When compared to other types of cancer, spinal cord tumors are not very common. In fact, the American Cancer Society has stated that a person has less than 1% chance of developing a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in his or her lifetime. The organization estimates that approximately 23,890 malignant brain or spinal cord tumors will be diagnosed in the United States in 2020—this is remarkably low when compared to the estimated 333,680 digestive system cancer cases and the 279,100 breast cancer cases. Plus, it’s important to remember that these figures take into account the total number of brain and spinal cord cases, not just spinal tumor cases.
Spinal cord cancer risk factors
Although spinal tumors are relatively uncommon, it’s likely that certain characteristics and behaviors can increase the risk of spinal cancer. While there are currently no risk factors conclusively associated with spinal cancer, some experts believe that the following factors may play a role in its development:
- Certain hereditary cancer syndromes (including Cowden syndrome, Gorlin syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, neurofibromatosis types 1 and 2, tuberous sclerosis, Turcot syndrome and von Hippel-Lindau disease)
- Exposure to high levels of electromagnetic radiation (especially during childhood)
- A weakened immune system (whether due to a congenital condition, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), treatment for another type of cancer or treatment designed to prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ)
The team to choose for spinal cancer treatment
If you need treatment for a spinal cord tumor, you can get the help you need from the experts at Moffitt Cancer Center who have extensive experience treating this type of rare disease. Our Neuro-Oncology Program includes some of the nation’s top neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and medical oncologists and our patients can benefit from advanced treatment options and promising clinical trials.
Medically reviewed by Nam Tran, MD, PhD, Neuro-Oncology Surgeon.