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Chordoma Tumor

What Is Chordoma?

Chordoma is a rare sarcoma (connective tissue cancer) of the spine. It can occur anywhere along the vertebral column — from the base of the skull to the tailbone (sacral chordoma).

In most cases, chordomas are slow growing tumors, but tend to recur after treatment.

Chordoma risk factors

Chordoma is a type of cancer that typically affects middle aged and older adults.

There are no known environmental, dietary, or lifestyle risk factors.

Chordoma Symptoms

Pain and neurologic changes are the most common symptoms of chordoma.

Symptoms of chordomas in the skull include:

  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Double vision
  • Changes in facial sensations, voice, speech, and swallowing function

Symptoms of chordomas of the spine and tailbone include:

  • Pain from sitting on a hard surface
  • Pain with any sitting can occur as the tumor grows
  • Bowel or bladder problems in severe cases

Chordoma Treatment

Chordomas can be hard to treat because they are near critical structures in the body such as:

  • The spinal cord
  • The brainstem
  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels

Chordoma treatment includes complex surgery, often with a multisurgeon team, to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

In some cases, doctors may also use radiation after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Make an Appointment for Chordoma Care

Request an appointment with a UPMC orthopaedic surgeon:


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