Personalized treatments for people with back pain and spine disorders
Published: Sept. 29, 2010
Updated: Nov. 17, 2010
A chordoma is a rare type of tumor that occurs in the spine or base of the skull. Chordoma has a high propensity to recur locally and can spread to other sites.
The cause of a chordoma is unknown.
Signs and symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. Chordomas located in the skull can cause headaches and visual disturbances. If the tumor is located in the spine, the patient may have changes in bowel or bladder function, or pain, numbness, and weakness of the extremities.
Your doctor will schedule a series of diagnostic tests such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to confirm the presence of the chordoma. A carefully planned biopsy is also necessary in most cases to confirm the diagnosis.
Complete surgical excision, when feasible, is generally considered the best treatment option. When possible, the tumor should be excised in one piece, taking care not to violate the tumor capsule.
In most cases, post-operative radiation therapy is recommended to decrease the risk of local recurrence of the tumor. The multidisciplinary team at the Duke Spine Center is very experienced in treating this complicated tumor.