Tumors of the spine and spinal cord are relatively uncommon. The most common initial symptom that patients with a spinal tumor have is pain. Because neck pain, and pain caused by a cervical (neck) disorder is very common, it is also not a specific symptom of any one disease or medical condition. Spinal cord tumors can be either primary (originating in the spinal cord) or secondary (metastases of cancer that originated elsewhere in the body). Therefore, the challenge is to determine how to evaluate neck pain with the goal of specifically excluding a tumor as the cause of the pain. Luckily, most neck pain is not due to a tumor. However, if a cancer were discovered after a long period of "conservative" management of neck pain, most patients would feel that their problem should have been investigated more thoroughly in the beginning.
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