Spinal cancer

Spinal cancer affects the spinal cord; it is also referred to as spinal cord compression. Cancerous spinal tumours that develop on the spinal cord cause problems as they press on the nerves that run down the spine. If left, they can keep growing and spread to nearby tissue or brain.

Spinal cancers are very rare, between 2% - 4% of cancers occur in the spine.


Rutherford Treatment Options

  • Proton Beam Therapy Available
  • Radiotherapy Available
  • Chemotherapy Available
  • Immunotherapy Available


The most common symptom of a spinal tumour is pain in your neck or back, including:

  • Pain that gets worse or doesn’t ease
  • Pin that disrupts your sleep or wakes you up at night
  • Worsening pain when you cough, sneeze or while going to the toilet


Other symptoms may include:

  • Pins and needles or numbness in the body
  • Weakness in your legs or arms
  • Problems opening your bladder or bowels (or difficulty controlling them)
  • Erectile issues

If you’d like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer
please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or

Spinal cancer diagnosis

A diagnosis for spinal cancer is made through specific scans and blood tests. Your GP may also look at your arms and legs to check your strength and reflexes.

If your GP thinks you are experiencing symptoms as a result of spinal cancer, they will send you for the following tests:

  • MRI scan or CT scan
  • biopsy
  • blood tests
  • a test to check the fluid that circulates around your brain and spinal cord (lumbar puncture)
MRI Diagnosis

Treating spinal cancer with proton beam therapy

Proton beam therapy may be used as a single treatment method for spinal cancer if other types of treatments are not suitable. This usually happens if the cancer has grown too large and surgery cannot be performed to remove it. It can also be used following surgery to remove any remaining cancer cells or if any cancer cells return following previous treatment.

The benefits of using proton beam therapy treatment for spinal cancer

The spinal cord is extremely sensitive, so it is crucial to avoid radiating the healthy areas surrounding the tumour in the spine. Proton beam therapy can be an effective treatment choice for spinal cancer, as it aims to precisely deliver maximum radiation to the tumour or cancer cells while delivering minimal radiation dose to surrounding healthy tissues and vertebrae that should be avoided.

An overview of how proton beam therapy works

Proton beam therapy is highly accurate in targeting a treatment area. It can be used to treat hard-to-reach tumours in the spine, while lowering radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue and vital organs.

Watch the video

Other treatment options for spinal cancer

There are other treatment options that can be used to treat spinal cancer, either before, after or alongside proton beam therapy. Please see other treatment options available at the Rutherford Cancer Centres below:







Further information & support

Being diagnosed with spinal cancer and deciding on the best treatment can be daunting, for full details on spinal treatment options or to discuss a diagnosis, please contact our enquiries team. Our enquiries team will endeavour to help you assess your treatment options and advise which consultants could be best placed to plan your treatment pathway.

Macmillan Cancer Support offers a wide range of information and support, as well as help with your practical, emotional, and financial needs. All telephone helplines are free and confidential, and interpreting services are also available.

Freephone: 0808 808 00 00

(Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 8.00pm)

Website: www.macmillan.org.uk

Get in Touch

If you'd like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or

Our Trusted Healthcare Partners