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Chordoma

Find a Chordoma Specialist Near You

The Houston Methodist team of chordoma specialists combines innovative research solutions and expert, compassionate care tailored to the unique challenges these tumors present.

The Neurosurgeons at Houston Methodist provide unparalleled knowledge and experience treating chordoma brain tumors. Our collaborative neurology and cancer team provides patients with advanced treatments — many of which are researched and developed at our Kenneth R. Peak Center for Brain and Pituitary Tumor Treatment and Research.

Chordoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the bones of the skull and spine. It is often diagnosed at a later stage and has a high recurrence after removal. To address the challenges a chordoma presents, our specialists create personalized care plans for each patient, working together to achieve the best outcomes.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Chordoma

 What are the signs and symptoms of a chordoma?

Chordomas develop from cells that are “left behind” as the spinal cord develops. They can occur at any place along the spinal cord — chordomas in the brain are called brain tumors, although they are not derived from brain tissue. Fewer than 1% of all primary brain tumors are chordomas.

 

Symptoms often are nonspecific and may include:

 

  • Double vision
  • Headache
  • Hearing changes
  • Neck pain

How is a chordoma diagnosed?

Doctors use imaging such as a CT scan and/or MRI to diagnose this type of cancer. These are also used to help develop a treatment plan. A needle biopsy will confirm a diagnosis.  


Chordomas are usually small and grow slowly, but some are aggressive and large. Early detection is key — if left untreated, the cancer can spread to other areas of the body.

What treatments are available?

Surgery is the most effective method for treating a chordoma. Removing a chordoma requires expertise to avoid damaging healthy brain and spinal cord tissue. With image-guided surgery, advanced technologies allow our neurosurgeons to treat a chordoma and other types of brain tumors with more safety and precision than ever before.  


Radiation may be used before, after or instead of surgery if the tumor is in a tiny, complicated spot. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is the use of radiation therapy to manipulate and focus the beam to the precise shape of the tumor to minimize the amount of radiation passing through healthy brain tissue. 


In addition to surgery and radiation, you might be eligible for a clinical trial for advanced treatment, such as molecular sequencing — genetic analysis of the tumor — or targeted medication. 

Learn More About Chordomas

Patient education and community resources for brain tumor treatment and recovery.
Brain Tumor Education >

Our Patient Stories

Inspiring patient successes.
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Forward-looking Treatments for a Chordoma

Advances in targeted medical therapy and radiotherapy may make these more prominent in the future, with aggressive surgery being reserved only for the most advanced cases.

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