Chordoma

1 What is Chordoma?

Chordoma is a rare cancer of bone that commonly affects the base of spine and base of skull.

Chordoma can occur in people of any age but adults are at a greater risk.

Due to its proximity to the spine, chordoma cancer is difficult to treat.

Chordoma is divided into three type: conventional chordoma, chondroid chordoma and dedifferentiated chordoma.

2 Symptoms

Some common signs and symptoms of chordoma are:

  • Headache
  • Pain in neck
  • Double vision
  • Changes in bowel/bladder function
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness of arms and legs

3 Causes

The exact cause of chordoma is unknown but inherited genetic mutations or abnormalities are thought to cause chordoma. 

4 Making a Diagnosis

The signs of Chordoma are non-specific and you may be referred to an oncologist to receive a diagnosis. Talk to your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.

How to prepare yourself for the visit

Getting prepared for the visit can optimize the therapy and help make the visit more fruitful.

  • List out all the symptoms.
  • Write down your key medical information.
  • Write down the names of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.
  • Make a list of the questions to ask your doctor.

Some typical question can be:

  • What could be possible causes of my symptoms?
  • What are the tests that I need?
  • What are the treatment options and their side effects?
  • Do I need to follow any restrictions?

What your doctor wants to know

A clear talk with your doctor can optimize the therapy and improve the outcomes. Prepare yourself to answer some essential questions from your doctor.

Your doctor might ask you typical questions like:

  • What are your symptoms and when did you start noticing them?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Does anything improve or worsen your symptoms?
  • Do you have a family history of chordoma?

Since the symptoms are non-specific, your doctor has to rely on radiological examinations and biopsy to confirm chordoma.

Some diagnostic tests for chordoma include:

  • CT scan: CT scan uses numerous X-rays images tom create a detailed image of the affected part.
  • MRI: An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce cross-sectional images.
  • These imaging techniques help your doctor detect if a tumor is present. It also gives information about tumor size and location.
  • Biopsy: Your doctor obtains a small sample of the tumor by inserting a needle into the tumor. The sample is then sent tom the lab to determine the specific type of tumor.

5 Treatment

Chordoma can be treated by:

  • Surgery: Surgery is the mainstay of the treatment for chordoma. Your surgeon may remove a portion of tumor. Due to proximity to the brain or spinal cord, complete removal of tumor is not possible even when multiple surgeries are performed.
  • Radiation: Radiation therapy and surgery can be used in combination to treat a chordoma or reduce the risk of recurrence.
  • Chemotherapy and Targeted Drug Therapy: A number of drugs are being investigated as potential treatment options for chordoma.
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