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A prompt and accurate spinal tumor diagnosis is essential to ensure appropriate treatment and the best possible outcome. This type of cancer is relatively uncommon, and its most usual symptoms — neck and back pain — are very similar to those of other, less serious health conditions. For patients with all types of spinal cancer, the Neuro-Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, offers the latest diagnostic and treatment options, including advanced neurological examination techniques for evaluating brain and spinal cord function, as well as next-generation sequencing to obtain detailed information about the genetic makeup of a tumor.

If spinal cancer is suspected, a neuro-oncologist at Moffitt in Tampa, Florida, may order one or more diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out a spinal tumor diagnosis and pinpoint the location of the mass. In addition to ordering a series of images, we may perform neurological tests to assess a patient’s reflexes, muscle strength, vision, eye and mouth movements, balance, coordination and alertness. Our diagnostic process may also include a biopsy, which involves the removal of a tissue sample that is examined under a microscope for cancerous cells. Some types of biopsies that are commonly used for spinal tumor diagnosis include:

  • Liquid molecular biopsy —A plasma sample is drawn and studied to identify certain proteins, nucleic acids and cancerous cells (spinal tumors are known to release biomarkers into the blood).
  • Spinal tap — A hollow needle is inserted between two vertebrae in the lower back to obtain a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Craniotomy — A small portion of skull bone is surgically removed to allow access to the brain, after which a tumor cell sample is collected and evaluated immediately. The results of this spinal tumor diagnosis can then be used to guide the surgeon in removing all or a portion of the mass.

After confirming a spinal tumor diagnosis, the multispecialty team at Moffitt can create an individualized treatment plan, which may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological response modifiers, a surgical procedure or any combination thereof. The skilled neurosurgeons at Moffitt perform brain and spine surgery with the guidance of three-dimensional intraoperative neuro-navigation systems and functional magnetic resonance imaging. These innovative technologies allow us to precisely locate and remove even very small and deep-seated tumors while minimizing disruption to surrounding tissue.

If you’d like to learn more about the spinal tumor diagnosis and treatment options available at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online. You do not need a referral to meet with a neuro-oncologist at Moffitt.

Spinal Tumor