What is a chordoma?

A chordoma is a rare and malignant type of tumor that can appear anywhere along the spine, from the bones of the skull base to the tailbone.

Almost a third of this kind of tumor appears on the lower back, known as the sacral area.

This type of cancer is usually slow growing, however tends to recur after treatment.

Causes and symptoms of chordoma

Like most cancers, chordomas randomly occur due to random cell mutations. Chordomas usually form from the remnants of the notochord and embryonic tissues. Although most cases of chordomas are random, they can be genetic.

What are the symptoms of chordoma?

  • Nerve problems and discomfort are common chordoma symptoms, as they can press on the spine and nerves as they get larger.
  • Numbness, weakness, lack of bladder or bowel control and a lump are also symptoms of chordoma to be aware of.

Chordoma treatment options

Your surgeon will attempt to remove the chordoma tumor and possibly the surrounding tissue during surgery. This is generally the primary option for removing chordomas.

Radiation to reduce the tumor's size and limit the chances of it metastasizing is also an option.

Following a successful chordoma surgery, you will generally need an MRI every three months to ensure the tumor does not return.

Find cancer support

We have an entire network of support resources designed just for you across Texas—from diagnosis to after you finish cancer treatment. Whether it’s coordinating your care or connecting you with other survivors, we’ll arm you with support for your fight.

Get started today by contacting a patient navigator or exploring one of our many programs.