Skip to Content


Chondrosarcoma is a rare cancer that usually begins in the bones, but can sometimes occur in soft tissue near the bones.

Learn about the treatment options for Chondrosarcoma at the UPMC Pituitary Center of Excellence.

Contact the UPMC Department of Neurosurgery

To make an appointment or learn more:

What is Chondrosarcoma?

Chondrosarcoma is a malignant (cancerous) tumor, typically found in the cartilage cells of the femur, arm, pelvis, knee, and spine. Rarely, this cancer may affect the ribs and other areas.

Chondrosarcoma also can originate at the skull base from the cartilage between the clivus and the petrous bone. This is called petro-clival synchondrosis.

As with all cancers, the prognosis or outcome depends upon how large the tumor is and whether it has spread to distant structures.

Chondrosarcoma most often occurs in people between 50 and 70 years old. It rarely affects people younger than 20. Males and females are at equal risk of developing chondrosarcoma.

Symptoms can include a large lump or mass on a bone, pressure surrounding the mass, or severe pain. Symptoms of chondrosarcoma of the skull base are neurological, and may include headaches, as well as vision or hearing disturbances.

At UPMC, the preferred surgical treatment for chondrosarcoma of the skull base is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. Benefits of EEA include:

  • No incisions to heal
  • No disfigurement
  • Faster recovery time

Diagnosing Chondrosarcoma

To make the diagnosis of chondrosarcoma, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam.

Chondrosarcoma symptoms

Symptoms of chondrosarcoma of the skull base (petro-clival synchondrosis) may include:

  • Headache
  • Double vision
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

Tests for diagnosing chondrosarcoma

Diagnostic tests may include:

  • MRI or CT scans
  • X-rays
  • Biopsy to diagnose a malignancy (cancer)

Chondrosarcoma Treatments

Treatment options for chondrosarcomas vary based on the patient, but surgery is most common.


Surgery is the main treatment used to remove and treat chondrosarcomas of the skull base, or petro-clival synchondrosis.

Chondrosarcomas of the skull base may be approached directly using the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA).This state-of-the-art, minimally invasive treatment approach allows surgeons to access the tumor through the natural corridor of the nose, without making an open incision. Surgeons then remove the chondrosarcoma through the nose and nasal cavities.

EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement, and a faster recovery time.

If you need complementary treatments, such as radiation, those therapies can begin soon after EEA surgery.

Chemotherapy or radiation therapy

Additional treatments for chondrosarcoma may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy.