Chordomas are rare and slow-growing cancers of the bone that can occur anywhere along the spine from the base of the skull to the tailbone.
Signs You Should Get Help for a Chordoma
A chordoma often starts without symptoms, but contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Back pain that doesn’t go away, is worse at night and is not relieved by rest
- Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty using your hands
- Double vision and headaches
- Difficulty swallowing
- A visible or palpable lump on the tailbone
- Bowel and bladder problems
- Numbness in your upper inner thighs, groin area, buttocks or genitals
Many of these are symptoms of multiple conditions, so it’s important to be evaluated by your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with chordoma, your doctor will refer you to a chordoma specialist.
Chordoma Treatment at Rush
Our goal is to treat your chordoma in the least invasive way possible. We are leaders in minimally invasive and innovative technologies and therapies that reduce your length of hospital stay and allow you to return to normal, day-to-day activities faster.
- Surgery: Because of the risk of chordomas spreading, a successful first surgery is very important to remove as much of the tumor as possible.
- Radiation therapy: Your surgery is done in conjunction with radiation therapy (a proton beam radiation or radiosurgery). You'll receive radiation before the surgery to help improve the likelihood that the tumor can be removed in one piece. And, you'll receive radiation after after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells or to slow the growth of tumors that can’t be removed with surgery.
- Rehabilitation: In some cases, surgery to remove a chordoma can affect the ability to speak or perform daily tasks, or disrupt bowel or bladder function. If this occurs, you may be referred to a physical, occupational or speech therapist who will help get you back on track.
- Follow-up care: Ongoing monitoring and management of chordoma is important to make sure the cancer does not recur — and if it does, to address it right away when it is most treatable.
Rush Excellence in Chordoma Care
- Nationally ranked experts focused on you: Our specialists treat more than 300 cases of spinal tumors each year, bringing you expertise in chordoma unique to this area. U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best in the nation for orthopedic, neurology and neurosurgery and cancer care.
- Innovative treatment options: Rush University Medical Center is the only hospital in the U.S. studying a cold atmospheric plasma device that can remove cancerous tissue and cells without damaging healthy tissue and cells. Rush also was one of the earliest adopters of radiosurgery (image-guided radiation therapy) for complex spinal tumors.
- Access to treatments you won't find elsewhere: Rush offers clinical trials through the National Cancer Institute that are looking at novel approaches to treating chordoma and other bone cancers.
- Second opinion services: A chordoma diagnosis can be scary, and we encourage you to seek a second opinion to help you explore all possible treatment options.
- Care where — and when — you need it: We’ve brought your treatment closer to home with Rush hospitals and clinics in Chicago, Oak Park, Oak Brook and Lisle. We are dedicated to giving you a swift diagnosis and increased access to care. In many cases, you will meet with your team of specialists all on the same day.