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Chordoma Tumor

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What Is Chordoma?

Chordoma is a rare cancer of the spine’s connective tissue. It can occur anywhere along the vertebral column — from the base of the skull to the tailbone (sacrum). In most cases, chordomas are slow growing tumors.  Symptoms can include head, neck, or lower back pain, changes in vision or speech, and a lump or pain in the lower back. Chordomas require surgical treatment to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

Chordoma risk factors

Chordoma is a type of cancer that mostly 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 tailbone (sacral) chordomas may not appear until the tumor is big enough.

Symptoms of chordomas in the skull

  • Headache and neck pain.
  • Double vision.
  • Changes in speech, voice, facial sensations, and swallowing.

Symptoms of chordomas of the spine and tailbone

  • A lump in the lower back.
  • 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.