Definition:  A chordoma is a benign, slow-growing tumor that occurs at the base of the skull or in the spine. These tumors arise from cells present before birth that were supposed to develop into a part of the spinal cord. The World Health Organization does not assign a grade to chordomas. 

Symptoms:  Common symptoms of a chordoma at the base of the skull are headache and inability to move the eyes appropriately causing double vision. A chordoma in the spine can cause pain, numbness, tingling, weakness in the arms and legs, or urinary problems. 

Evaluation: Chordomas are evaluated with CT or MRI scans.  X-rays may be done to show the amount of bone affected by the tumor.  

Treatment Options:

The preferred treatment of a chordoma is surgical removal of as much of the tumor as possible without causing significant neurological damage followed by radiation therapy to prevent recurrence.

Follow-up: Long-term close follow-up with regular MRI scans is recommended due to the high rate of recurrence of this type of tumor and the possibility of metastasis (spread) to other parts of the body.

Neurosurgery (SOM)

CU Anschutz

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Aurora, CO 80045


CU Anschutz

University Hospital - Neurosurgery Patient Affairs

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Aurora, CO 80045


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