- A chordoma is a rare, cancerous tumor that develops anywhere in the spine, from the base of the skull to the tailbone.
- This type of cancer falls under a family of cancers called sarcomas, and it can develop slowly, eventually spreading to surrounding bone and soft tissue.
- In this blog, the physicians at AOC explain treatment options for patients with chordoma.
Chordoma is a cancer that can affect bone, cartilage, muscle, and other connective tissues. It is a rare cancer that is thought to arise from remnants of the embryonic notochord, which is a unique structure that serves as a protective scaffolding for the spinal column. The cells that make up this cartilage-like structure may undergo a malignant transformation, causing a chordoma to form somewhere along the spine. These tumors can be difficult to detect because they are generally slow growing. Unfortunately, chordomas can be even harder to treat – they are relentless and can recur often.
While this may sound disheartening, it’s important patient’s do not give up hope. Chordomas require highly specialized care because of their proximity to the spinal cord, brainstem, nerves, and arteries. That’s why it’s imperative patients seek treatment from a physician who specializes in neck and skull-based cancers. Some of the physicians at AOC are expertly trained in these rare tumors, and they offer honest, compassionate care to each patient they encounter with this condition.
Because these tumors can occur anywhere along the spine, patients should understand where this cancer is located before seeking a second opinion for treatment. According to the Chordoma Foundation, chordomas occur most commonly in the clivus, which is a bone in the middle of the head. About 32% of chordomas develop in the clivus and 29% develop in the sacrum or coccyx.
The foundation reports cervical, thoracic, and lumbar chordomas occur less frequently, but they are possible. Nevertheless, the physicians at AOC can recommend treatment for chordomas that develop in the head, base of the skull, and neck. When it comes to treating chordomas, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, there are three histological subtypes of chordomas: conventional, chondroid, and dedifferentiated. The latter of the three is the most aggressive and fast growing.
Because this particular cancer is in the sarcoma family, it is often misdiagnosed as a chondrosarcoma. That is why seeing a specialist is essential to getting the proper treatment for your condition. Surgery is general the first line of treatment for patients with chordomas. The goal is to remove the tumor completely without damaging nearby structures and organs. After resecting the tumor, radiation therapy may be implemented to reducing the likelihood of the cancer spreading.
Additional surgical procedures may be may be needed to resect any remaining cancerous tissue. Chemotherapy is another treatment option for patients affected by this cancer. It can help slow the progression of the disease, increasing the patient’s chance of survival. Alternative, conservative, and interventional therapies may also be considered to treat the chordoma and reduce any pain that’s being caused by the cancer. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with this condition, call AOC today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists. We look forward to hearing from you!
Arizona Otolaryngology Consultants (AOC) is a comprehensive ENT clinic that provides care for all diseases of the ears, nose, throat, and sinuses. The physicians at AOC have the highest level of training and expertise in ENT care and ENT subspecialty care, which includes the management of pediatric airway, cancer, skull base surgery, advanced head and neck surgical and reconstructive procedures, craniofacial surgery and more. Call 602-264-4834 to request an appointment today!
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.