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8095 Innovation Park Drive, Fairfax, VA 22031


Inova's Brain and Spine Tumor team provides comprehensive management and treatment of all forms of brain, pituitary and spine tumors. This unique, multidisciplinary program treats people with both primary and metastatic tumors. Our neurosurgeons, with advance/fellowship training in treatment of tumors of brain, pituitary gland and spine, are experts in treatment of the most difficult cases. 

There are many different kinds of tumors that can affect the brain and nervous system. Although not all are malignant, even a benign tumor requires prompt evaluation by a neurosurgeon who specializes in oncology, due to the tumor’s location.

Until recently, surgical intervention for spinal tumors was considered the “last resource option” when all other treatments had failed. In some cases, surgery was not considered at all. Two decades of research have shown that, in certain types of tumors, surgical intervention may be the only treatment option.

Each case is unique. To ensure the most appropriate treatment, it’s best to consult a surgeon with advanced training in the evaluation of brain and spine tumors.

If a tumor is discovered before symptoms appear, one approach could be to simply monitor the tumor with periodic MRI or CT scans. If the tumor is benign (non-cancerous) and not causing symptoms, surgical removal or treatment isn’t always necessary.

If a tumor is cancerous or causing pressure on the spinal cord or brain, treatment can include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling
  • Surgery to remove part or all of the tumor
  • Surgery to relieve pressure on the brain and spine
  • Radiation therapy to reduce the tumor’s volume
  • Chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells or prevent them from growing
  • Acoustic Neuromas are benign tumors that affect the vestibular nerve and cause hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and occasionally unsteadiness.
  • Colloid Cysts are the most common brain tumor located within the third ventricle. A colloid cyst is a benign tumor that can cause a blockage of cerebrospinal fluid, leading to increased intracranial pressure.
  • Chordomas are a rare type of tumor that occurs in the bones of the skull and spine.
  • Ependymomas originate in the inside lining of the brain.
  • Gliomas begin in the cells that surround and support nerve cells. They are classified as low grade glioma, anaplastic glioma and glioblastoma based on their growth rate and malignancy.
  • Hemangioblastomas are usually non-cancerous brain tumors made of stem cells that the body uses to make blood vessels or blood cells. However, they can form large cysts that can cause severe symptoms. 
  • Meningiomas are slow-growing tumors that form in the thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord.
  • Metastatic Tumors are any tumors resulting from the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.
  • Pediatric Brain Tumors include astrocytomas, medulloblastomas, and ependymomas.
  • Pineal Region Tumors form in and around the pineal gland, which is deep within the brain.
  • Pituitary Tumors are usually benign and form in the pituitary gland, a pea-sized organ at the base of the brain that makes hormones that affect other glands and many body functions, especially growth.
  • Skull-Base Tumors include any tumor that grows from the base of the skull.
    • Pituitary Tumors including non-functional pituitary adenoma, prolactinoma and pituitary tumors causing Cushing's disease, acromegaly, etc...

Common Benign Spine Tumors

  • Aneurysmal Bone Cyst (ABC) are not actually tumors; they are cysts that look and are treated much like tumors. ABCs occur most often in the posterior area of the lumbar spine.
  • Giant Cell Tumor (GCT) is a very aggressive tumor most often found in the sacrum and anterior areas of the spinal column.
  • Hemangioma is usually found in the thoracic and lumbar areas of the spine and is more likely to affect women between the ages of 30 and 40. This tumor is usually benign and does not cause any problems in the majority of cases.
  • Osteoid Osteoma is often located in the posterior area of the lumbar spine. These types of tumors sometimes cause spinal deformity.
  • Osteoblastoma are most often found in the posterior area of the lumbar spine.

Common Malignant Spine Tumors

  • Metastatic tumors are the most frequent tumors of the spine. These are tumors that start from another organ, such as lung, breast, prostate, etc., and spread to the spine.
  • Chordoma are more rare, slow-growing tumors typically found in male patients commonly found in the sacrum.
  • Osteosarcoma are more and easily spread to other areas of the body.
  • Chondrosarcoma are slower-growing and most likely found in the thoracic, lumbar and sacrum areas of the spine.
  • Plasmacytoma are called round cell tumors due to how they look under a microscope and are usually located on the thoracic or lumbar areas of the spine in males.
  • Multiple Myeloma are round cell tumors are the most common type of bone cancer in adults.
  • Lymphoma are round cell tumors are most likely of the non-Hodgkin’s type and are often found in multiple areas of the body.
  • Ewing’s Sarcoma is a highly malignant round cell tumor most often found in children usually in the sacrum area of the spine.
  • Other tumors of the spine are: Hemangioblastoma, meningioma, schwannoma, ependymoma, etc...

Contact the Inova Brain and Spine Tumor Program


If you have questions, would like to refer a patient to our program or require a second opinion, please call 571-472-4100. Our office staff will connect you with our brain and spine tumor specialists.

You can send a referral through our EPIC electronic medical platform. Or, you can fax a referral to our office at 571-472-4101.

Call us at 703-776-4700.