Chordoma is one of the rare kind of cancer that originates in the bones of the spine and skull. It grows very slowly but tend to be very persistent as it can recur after treatment. Its develops extremely close to critical structures such as brainstem, spinal cord, nerves and arteries, hence are quite difficult to cure and require advanced treatment.
Chordoma can be found in different age groups, but is more common in people over 40. The disease is quite rare as only 1 in 800,000 people suffer from this cancer. Inheritance or family history isn’t the cause of Chordoma as it occurs sporadically.
Types of Chordoma
1. Conventional (Classic)
People suffering from Chordoma experience some pain and neurological changes. Other symptoms are double vision, headache, irregularity in speech and voice, tingling, weakness, numbness, etc.
Treatment of Chordoma
Treatment of Chordoma is performed at specialized centers with a team of experienced physicians. The type of treatment can vary depending on the size and location of the cancer spread. The treatment options include:
- Medical therapy: Imatinib mesylate, atyrosine kinase inhibitor, is used to treat Chordoma as it has a high success rate where it can stabilize the growth of the tumor by 84%. It targets many enzymes, which support the expansion of chordomas. Other medicines used are bevacizumab and erlotinib, which provide promising and long lasting effects.
- Surgery: Surgery is the most preferred method of treating Chordomas where the complete removal of the tumor is done by surgeon, which also reduces the chances of recurrence. Although a risky process, if the tumor is developed in critical areas, it still has a very high success rate.
- Radiation therapy: Another widely used treatment option for Chordomas, mainly when incomplete resection is assumed. Sometimes, it is also used along with medical and surgical procedure to increase the efficiency of treatment.
The complications usually have a higher rate after the radical resections, which depends on the exact location of the tumor. A patient treated with surgery may experience mild or severe morbidity after the tumor is resected. Bladder and bowel dysfunction are also some frequent complications that may experience. Infection, urinary retention, shock or pulmonary complications are also likely to occur.
Post operative care
Rehabilitation may be necessary for the patient after surgery, if the spinal cord is damaged.
Frequent follow up is required as the recurrence rate in Chordoma is quite high. CT scans and MRI will be done continuously to find out if the tumor is coming back.