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Spinal Cord Tumors in Children

What is a spinal cord tumor?

Spinal cord tumors are benign or malignant growths in or near the spinal cord. They are less common in children than brain tumors and occur primarily in children 10 to 16 years old.

Spinal cord tumors may arise from the spinal cord region (primary) or spread to the cord from other organs (metastatic). Metastatic spinal cord tumors, which are cancerous, are more common in children than primary spinal cord tumors.

Types of spinal cord tumors:

About 90% of primary spinal cord tumors begin in cells next to the spinal cord. These include:

  • Meningioma, a usually benign, slow growing tumor that starts in the meninges — the outer three layers of tissue between the skull and the brain that cover and protect the brain just under the skull.
  • Acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma), a benign, slow growing tumor of the nerve that connects the ear to the brain (the hearing nerve).
  • Neurofibroma, a benign tumor that arises from nerves, usually those close to the surface of the body such as nerves of the skin or tissue just beneath the skin.
  • Ependymoma, the most common primary intramedullary (within the spinal cord) tumor.

About 10% of primary spinal cord tumors begin in the cells within the spinal cord.

To make an appointment or request a consultation, contact the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Brain Tumor Center at 410-955-7337.