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The cancer experts at Moffitt Cancer Center are often asked what causes spinal tumors. In most cases, the causes of spinal tumors and other forms of cancer are unknown. Currently, researchers and clinicians at Moffitt have several active studies underway to attempt to identify possible environmental, behavioral and genetic risk factors for these conditions, and more is being learned every day. 

What is known is that healthy human cells grow and function based on information contained in their chromosomes, which are long strands of DNA found within each cell. DNA is a chemical that makes up the genes that provide the instructions for how the cells function. Much like tumors that develop in other areas of the body, spinal tumors can result from changes that occur within cellular DNA. 

While studying what causes spinal tumors, researchers have zeroed in on the role of genetic mutations as follows:

  • Certain genes called oncogenes control the timing of when cells grow, divide into new cells and die.
  • Other genes, which are called tumor suppressor genes, serve to slow down cell division or cause the cells to die at the appropriate times.
  • Sometimes, during the cellular division process, DNA is improperly copied to the new cells.  Cancer can form as a result of an accumulation of excess cells caused by DNA changes that turn on oncogenes or turn off tumor suppressor genes.
  • Genetic mutations can be inherited, or they can occur during a person’s lifetime.

At Moffitt, we perform extensive etiological studies, and we are especially well known for the strides we have made through our genetic research. For instance, our patient outcomes consistently outrank national averages, and our patients are enjoying longer and higher quality lives. Due to our research efforts and robust clinical trials, the National Cancer Institute has awarded Moffitt the designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only cancer center based in Florida that has received this prestigious recognition.

If you have more questions about what causes spinal tumors, call 1-888-663-3488 or schedule an appointment online to consult with our oncologists specializing in spinal cancer. We do not require referrals.