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Objective:The objective of this study is to delineate clinical features and specific diagnostic and therapeutic implications of spinal metastasis occurring as the initial manifestation of malignancy(SM-IMM)-a less common event than spinal metastasis in the setting of previously established malignancy(SM-PEM). Methods:The authors reviewed retrospectively the clinical records of 19 patients in SM-IMM group at Korean Cancer Center Hospital between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2001 and analyzed symptom duration, primary origin, treatment modality and survival time. Then 287 cases of SM-PEM group were searched for primary origin. Results:Thyroid cancer(36.8%), metastasis of unknown origin(31%), liver cancer(10.5%) and stomach cancer (10.5%) were found as primary tumor in SM-IMM group. But in SM-PEM group lung cancer was most frequent primary tumor(22%), breast cancer(17%), stomach cancer(7.3%) and liver cancer (7.3%) followed. Primary pathology was confirmed with spinal decompressive surgery(7 cases), biopsy of spinal lesion(5 cases), and biopsy of other sites except spine(7 cases). Patients in SM-IMM group showed short symptom duration and multi-segmental involvement at diagnosis. And post-treatment survival time was short except thyroid cancer in spite of aggressive treatment(mean survival time, 2.7 months). Conclusion:SM-IMM group showed different profile from SM-PEM group on primary origin. And in the diagnosis of primary origin in SM-IMM group, important clues were provided with history taking, physical examination and PET. Key words:Spinal metastasis;Initial manifestation of malignancy;Previously established malignancy.