Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Chordoma Overview

What is a chordoma?
A person with a chordoma has a rare type of that can occur in the spinal cord or brain. Chordomas are usually found along the spine, with nearly 50% occurring in the lower spine. Chordomas can occur next to the spinal cord where they can place pressure on the spinal cord. Less commonly, chordomas can occur at the base of the brain. Chordomas are usually slow growing and do not usually spread. More rarely, they may spread to the lungs or other tissues adjacent the spinal cord.

What are the symptoms of a chordoma?
Chordomas usually cause symptoms by pressing on the spinal cord or important brain structures. Symptoms of a brain chordoma may include difficulty swallowing, difficulty walking, facial paralysis, chronic headaches, loss of hearing, changes in vision, and problems with balance. Chordoma in the spinal cord may cause chronic back pain, constipation, numbness or weakness in the legs, and a loss of bowel or bladder function.

How does the doctor treat a chordoma?
The treatment of chordoma depends on the size and location of the tumor. Treatment for chordoma may include anticonvulsants to control seizures, oral corticosteroids, surgery, and radiation therapy.

Continue to Chordoma Incidence

Last Updated: Dec 7, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Chordoma References
  1. Fourney DR, Gokaslan ZL. Current management of sacral chordoma. Neurosurg Focus. 2003 Aug 15;15(2):E9. [15350040]
  2. Mendenhall WM, Mendenhall CM, Lewis SB, Villaret DB, Mendenhall NP. Skull base chordoma. Head Neck. 2005 Feb;27(2):159-65. [15641104]
  3. Sundaresan N, Boriani S, Rothman A, Holtzman R. Tumors of the osseous spine. J Neurooncol. 2004 Aug-Sep;69(1-3):273-90. [15527096]
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