Prior cancer, radiation exposure, an impaired immune system or familial occurrence of rare diseases such as neurofibromatosis and tuberous sclerosis, may slightly increase the risk for spinal cancers, according to New York-Presbyterian Hospital. There are very few known risk factors associated with spinal cord cancer or tumors.
Cancers that are more likely to spread from other areas of the body to the spine are breast, lung, prostate and multiple myeloma cancers, notes the CTCA. Cancer that starts in the spine rarely spreads to other areas of the body and requires different treatment than cancer that has a distant primary location in another organ, states New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Spinal cancers are more likely to spread throughout the spine itself or into the brain. Many different types of spinal cancer may develop; some types are extremely treatable, while others have a very poor prognosis.
Spinal cancer is normally graded rather than staged, states the CTCA. People with grade one spinal cancer may often have the tumor removed without surgical treatment. In patients with stage two spinal cancer, the tumor is slow growing, but it can spread to other nearby tissues or recur. For patients with stage three spinal cancer, the cancer grows rapidly and is more likely to spread to other tissues in the body. Spinal cancer in stage four grows and spreads quickly.