Medication for Spinal Cord Tumors

NYU Langone’s medical oncologists may prescribe medication, such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy, to shrink tumors when other treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy, have not been effective or cannot be performed.


Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells throughout the body. They are rarely used to treat spinal cord tumors unless the tumors are cancerous and fast-growing, increasing their risk of spreading outside of the spinal cord. When prescribed, these drugs are often given after surgery or radiation therapy.

Most chemotherapy is given through a vein with several intravenous (IV) infusions. IV chemotherapy is usually delivered in cycles; one cycle involves a treatment followed by a period of rest.

Clinical Trials

NYU Langone physicians may advise some people who need medication for a spinal cord tumor to enroll in a clinical trial. These carefully monitored scientific research studies can provide access to promising new therapies for spinal cord tumors.

NYU Langone is currently studying the effectiveness of several medications—chemotherapy drugs, immunotherapies, and targeted therapies—for spinal cord tumors, including the following:

  • interferon, which helps the immune system destroy tumor cells
  • bevacizumab, also known as Avastin®, a targeted therapy that blocks the activity of a substance that helps tumors form new blood vessels
  • hydroxyurea, a chemotherapy drug that blocks the production of tumor cell DNA—the genetic material that directs a cell’s activities—and stops cancer cells from growing
  • progesterone, a hormone that may slow the growth of tumor cells

You and your doctor can discuss whether a clinical trial might be right for you.

Managing Side Effects

Chemotherapy can cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and mouth sores. Our medical oncologists are careful to prescribe the dose that is least likely to cause these side effects.

In addition, our doctors can connect you with supportive and integrative health services to help manage these side effects.

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