Chordomas are usually slow-growing, locally invasive tumours occurring at the base of the skull or at the end of the spine. They affect the adjacent cranial nerves and brainstem.
- Originates from cells left over from early fetal development
- Invades the bone and soft tissues, and sometimes involves the brain and cranial nerves
- Can block the ventricles, causing hydrocephalus (water on the brain)
- Can metastasize (spread) or recur
Common symptoms include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Double vision
Treatment/Standard of Care
It is generally agreed that the optimal treatment for most skull-base chordomas is maximal surgical removal followed by focused radiation therapy. Skull-base chordomas are difficult tumours to remove, and it is important that patients are referred to neurosurgeons with particular expertise in skull base chordomas. Some chordomas may also be amenable to resection via endoscopic surgery through the nasal cavities.
There are many types of radiation therapy possible for chordomas, including proton beam, linac radiotherapy, IMRT, gamma knife, carbon ion and others. In rare cases, chemotherapy may also be recommended as part of the treatment plan.