The optimal treatment for a spinal cord tumor is in-part related to the type and location. However, the great majority are treated with surgical removal usually through a laminectomy and microsurgical resection. The goal of surgery is maximal but safe removal with avoidance of worsening neurological function. Tumors within the spinal cord (intramedullary) including astrocytomas, ependymomas and hemangioblastomas of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions, are removed as completely as possible.
For astrocytomas, given their infiltrative/invasive nature, complete removal is often not possible and additional therapy with radiation or sometimes chemotherapy may be needed. Myxopapillary ependymomas of the cauda equine or filum terminale (lumbar) region, as well as spinal meningiomas and schwannomas that arise outside the spinal cord are often able to be removed in complete fashion, but adhesions to the spinal cord or nerve roots may preclude complete removal in many patients. For incompletely removed meningiomas, schwannomas or ependymomas, focused radiotherapy may be indicated.