Spinal Tumor Treatment

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Getting the news you have a spinal tumor can be frightening, and the tumor itself can cause intense pain. At UVA Health, our spine specialists have the training and experience to provide you with the best care. We will guide you through diagnosis and treatment.

Spinal Tumor Treatment at UVA Health

Our advanced care team for spinal tumors brings together experts from:

  • Neurosurgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Rehabilitative medicine
  • Radiology
  • Oncology

Becker's Hospital Review named UVA Health one of its "100 hospitals and health systems with great neurosurgery and spine programs."

We perform over 1,700 spine procedures a year. Your treatment depends on the type of tumor and its location. Our entire care team will work with you and your referring physician to come up with a treatment plan that meets your individual needs. We offer other treatments for spinal tumors aside from surgery, too.

Imaging & Tests

The right treatment starts with the right diagnosis. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and do a physical exam. We may do:

  • Neurologic tests
  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Biopsy


Your doctor will consider the location, size, and the progression of the tumor before surgery. Surgery may be done as:

  • Part of cancer treatment that includes chemotherapy or radiation
  • Treatment to try to relieve pain or disability
  • Treatment for tumors that do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation


Chemotherapy means using drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given by:

  • Pill
  • Injection
  • Catheter (IV or port)

The drugs travel through the bloodstream to kill cancer cells, but some healthy cells are killed as well.

Chemo may be used as treatment alone or with other treatments, such as surgery.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink the tumor. Radiation can help shrink the tumor and decrease your symptoms. Radiation may also be used before surgery.

There are multiple forms of radiation. The type you get depends on the location of the tumor and goals of your treatment. Our radiologists work to deliver the right amount of radiation to the tumor while protecting nearby healthy cells.


    Benign tumors that are not causing symptoms, or have mild symptoms, may not need treatment. Your doctor will monitor the tumor to look for any changes.