Dr. Kamal Thapar, MD., PhD., FRCSC., FAANS
1200 Oakleaf Way, Suite A, Altoona, WI 54720

Cervical Spine Tumors

Cervical spine tumors are abnormal growths of cells that develop within the spinal canal of the neck which may compress the spinal cord. These abnormal growths can be either benign or malignant depending on the type of cells that make up the abnormal mass.


These abnormal growths can be either primary or secondary. If it is a primary tumor, that means it began in the spinal canal and did not originate elsewhere in the body. Secondary tumors are abnormal growths that occur within the spinal canal as a result of an abnormal process occurring elsewhere in the body.

Individuals with neurofibromatosis type 2 and von Hippel-Lindau disease are more likely to develop spine tumors.


– Neck pain

– Arm pain

– Numbness and tingling

– Difficulty walking

– Impaired bowel and/or bladder function


In order to confirm the diagnosis of a cervical spine tumor, an MRI of the cervical spine is obtained in order to identify the location of any tumor present and to establish whether the spinal cord or spinal nerves are being compressed as a result of any abnormal growth. Additionally, a CT scan of the cervical spine may be needed to further evaluate any tumor.


The treatment for a cervical spine tumor depends on the etiology of the abnormal mass.  Generally, the treatment of cervical spine tumors requires a team of specialists including an oncologist (tumor specialist) and neurosurgeon. If there is compression of the spinal cord and there are significant symptoms present as a result, surgery may be required. If surgical intervention is required, it would involve removal of the tumor. Many times, in order to remove the tumor, bony structures of the spine must be removed as well. Because of this, a fusion operation is often performed as well to stabilize the spine.