Chordoma is a rare cancerous (malignant) primary bone tumor that occurs along the spine, most often in the base of the spine (sacrum) or in the base of the skull. Chordomas can occur at any age, but they usually occur in adults. Although slow growing, chordomas are difficult tumors to treat, and they are often life-threatening.

Chordomas form from small remnants of the notochord, a coil of cells in the embryo that develops into the spinal cord. In rare cases, a leftover cell (notochord remnant) can develop into a chordoma. Symptoms depend on the site of the tumor. Long-term follow-up care is necessary after treatment ends because chordomas can spread (metastasize) and recur.

Nov. 16, 2012