Chordoma is a rare form of bone cancer located in the skull and spine. It is a slow growing cancer that has shown to metastasize to lungs, liver, lymph nodes and skin in 20-30% of affected people. This type of bone cancer has a tendency to relapse. The incidence of chordoma is 1 in 1 million people.

The symptoms a patient may experience depend upon the location of the tumor.  For patients with a tumor in the lower back, symptoms include low back pain, leg pain, leg weakness/numbness, and bladder and/or bowel incontinence.  Patients with a tumor at skull base may have headaches, blurred vision, and/or double vision.  Noninvasive imaging studies such as CT and MRI may be used to evaluate this tumor.

Treatments for chordoma include surgery followed by radiation therapy. Chemotherapy has showed not to be an effective treatment for chordoma. With maximal treatment, the average lifespan of a person with this condition is 5 years, though some patients may survive the disease.  Scientists are conducting research in order to provide better treatments for chordoma. 

Eseosa Ighodaro and Justin F. Fraser M.D.

Diaz, Roberto J. “The Biological Basis for Modern Treatment of Chordoma,” Journal of Neuro-oncology. Volume 104, March 2011, Pages 411-422
Launay, Simon. “Efficacy of epidermal growth factor receptor targeting in Advanced Chordoma: Case Report and Literature Review,” BMC Cancer. Volume 11, Issue 11, October 2011, Page 423