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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
Chordoma Print E-mail

Dr. Kennedy Chordoma is a rare type of tumor that usually occurs in the spine and base of the skull. It is malignant and grows slowly. It can spread to other organs, usually the lungs. It comprises about one percent of all malignant bone tumors. Most cases of chordoma are in people between 40 and 70 years of age. Occasionally chodoma can appear in younger patients, even children. The average age of people affected is about 55 years. Chordomas develop in the notochord which develops into the the spine in early fetal development. Most of the notochord is replaced by the spine during the first six months of development, but small areas can remain, and chordomas can form from these areas. Most chordomas occur at the base of the spine in the sacrum, in the tailbone (coccyx) or at the base of the skull, but they can occur other places in the spine. Chordomas are life-threatening. They can cause death by direct growth or by spreading to other organs. They spread to the lungs in about 25 percent of cases. Symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. When they are in the skull they can cause headache or visual problems. Tumors in the spine can cause pain in the area of tumor (neck, back, or tailbone). A tumor pressing on nearby nerves can cause symptoms similar to a "slipped" (herniated) disk including arm or leg pain, weakness, or numbness. Tumors in the tailbone area can cause a noticeable mass, numbness in the crotch area, and problems with the bowel and bladder. Chordomas grow slowly and patients often have symptoms for a year or more before they seek medical attention. Diagnosis can be difficult. X-rays of the sacrum are often difficult to interpret. Chordomas themselves do not show up well, but the bone damage may be seen on the X-rays and thus hint at the diagnosis.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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