Chordoma

Chordoma is a rare, slow growing malignant tumour that develops in the spine and skull bones. It is thought to form from the remnants of the notochord (a preliminary structure present in a developing baby in the womb, which eventually forms the spinal cord). The exact cause of a chordoma has not been established with certainty.

Chordomas are more common in adults than children. They can be life-threatening and difficult to treat and therefore require specialized follow-up care.

The most evident signs of a chordoma are pain and neurological changes. Symptoms typical to a skull-based chordoma include headache, issues with vision such as double vision, and pain in the neck region. Symptoms vary depending on the size of the tumour. For instance, a large chordoma may bring about changes in voice and speech, as well as changes in facial sensation or movement and swallowing function. Some other symptoms include weakness in the limbs, pain, body pain, and changes in the functioning of the bowel or the bladder.

Diagnosis involves imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans. Your doctor may recommend X-rays to determine the extent of bone damage due to the tumour.

Treatment of a chordoma involves removing the maximum possible amount of tumour tissue via surgery. Surgery is followed by an aggressive dose of radiation therapy to kill any surrounding tumour cells. Radiation therapy is usually recommended as it reduces the risk of recurrence and also prolongs survival. In cases of advanced chordoma, chemotherapy may slow down the growth of the tumour or temporarily arrest the progression of the disease. Molecularly targeted cancer drugs are also gaining popularity as a treatment approach for chordomas.

  • Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital

    NHS

    Ashford and St Peter’s
    Hospital
    NHS Foundation Trust
    Guildford Road, Cherstey,
    Surrey, KY16 0PZ.
    Ph: 01932 872 000
  • The BMI Runnymede Hospital

    Private

    The BMI
    Runnymede Hospital
    Guildford Road,
    Ottershaw, CHERTSEY,
    KT16 0RQ.
    Ph: 01932 877800
  • Spire St Anthony’s Hospital

    Private

    Spire St Anthony’s
    Hospital
    801 London Road,
    NORTH CHEAM,
    SM3 9DW.
    Ph: 020 8337 6691
  • Nuffield Health Woking Hospital

    Private

    Nuffield Health
    Woking Hospital
    Shores Road,
    WOKING,
    GU21 4BY.
    Ph: 01483 331257
  • Ramsay Health Ashtead Hospital

    Private

    Ramsay Health
    Ashtead Hospital
    The Warren,
    Ashtead, Surrey.
    KT21 2SB.
    Ph: 01372 221400