Spinal cord tumors are similar to any other type of tumor. Its cause is unknown but can occur as a primary tumor or as a result of the spread of cancer from another area. Thoracic vertebral tumors can cause upper back pain, loss of sensation, muscle weakness and spasms. Like other tumors, these must be treated quickly and effectively so they do not spread to other areas. Corticosteroids can help relieve symptoms but surgery, radiation or chemotherapy may be necessary to remove the tumor.