ABOUT Chordoma - Symptoms and Treatment - Maximed Turkey
What Is Chordoma?
Chordoma is a type of bone tumor that forms in the rib or vertebral bodies. It is most often found in younger patients who are still growing but can also occur in adults. Although chordomas are not very common, they are fairly aggressive and will spread quickly if untreated.
This rare cancer typically starts as a benign tumor that arises from the ribs or vertebrae in children and teenagers. This benign tumor may then become malignant when left untreated for too long because it can spread quickly to other parts of the body.
When chordoma spreads, it can typically cause severe pain, issues with breathing, paralysis, possible death due to organ failure, or heart problems.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chordoma?
Pain resulting from the tumor's presence can be severe, and if left untreated, could potentially cause permanent damage to other areas of the rib or spine. Symptoms include:
· Extreme pain in the chest or back.
· Difficulty breathing.
· Severe weight loss due to not being able to eat enough to maintain weight.
· Low blood pressure due to blood leakage from the body. These are also known as "blood clots." Some people feel dizzy or light-headed when their blood pressure drops, especially when standing up quickly after sitting for some time.
· Anemia due to the blood leaking from the body.
Chordoma may also cause other symptoms, such as:
· Back pain that comes and goes.
· Swelling in the legs or feet.
· An inability to move leg muscles and/or ankle, foot, and toes (paralysis). This is rare but can occur in chordoma. Paralysis can also be caused by damage to central nervous system (CNS) nerves during tumor growth. The tumor may also squeeze between vertebrae, causing pressure on other nerves, which could lead to weakness in the legs and other lower extremities (facial droop).
Can Chordoma Be Treated?
Chordoma can be treated, but symptoms may become worse before symptoms heal. Treatment options include surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy radiation therapy, and/or targeted drug therapy.
Surgery is typically the first option used to treat chordoma because surgery removes all of the tumors while leaving the spinal cord intact. This procedure is called a "lobectomy." The surgery can be done on an outpatient basis or under anesthesia in a hospital.
The surgery can also be performed at an outpatient surgery center if you cannot drive for one or two nights following surgery.
Chemotherapy is a second option for chordoma treatment. Chemotherapy may only be used when other medical issues need to be addressed, such as kidney disease or infection. Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy if the tumor is in the rib area and there are lesions in the side of the rib, or if your cancer is in both lungs (metastases).
Many people with chordoma do not need any additional treatment option, but it depends on how advanced their chordoma is and if certain genetic factors play a role.
Most chordomas are found after age 20. Individuals with older chordomas can live for decades, even after surgery and/or chemotherapy treatment has begun. A small proportion of chordomas will include certain genetic factors (mutation), such as the "CHRNA7" and "CHRNA3" genes or a translocation mutation.
More than half of patients with chordoma have a family history of cancer. If you have a family history of cancer, your doctor may recommend genetic testing to see if you have a genetic mutation associated with chordoma.
Chordoma is rare, so there are only a few dedicated treatment centers. There are also relatively few clinical trials for treatments that specifically target chordoma, but there are some trails that can be done at virtually any medical center for this type of cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions Chordoma
How Common Is Chordoma?
Chordomas are a rare type of cancer that forms in the vertebral column. They are typically found in younger individuals who have not yet reached full development but can be found in older populations as well.
In the United States, chordoma accounts for about 1% of all bone cancers. In Europe, however, it accounts for 2% to 4% of all bone cancers. The World Health Organization estimates that there will be between 400 and 800 new cases diagnosed each year.
Chordomas start as benign tumors and often grow quickly to become malignant if they aren't removed early enough and/or don't respond well to treatment. The tumors can spread to other parts of the body where they start to grow again.
What Are The Risk Factors For Chordoma?
Risk factors for chordoma include being younger than 30, having a family history of cancer, or having defects in chromosomes 9 or 22. Your doctor may recommend genetic testing to see if you have a genetic mutation associated with chordoma.
Can Chordoma Be Cured?
Over the past two decades, chordomas have been treated more effectively due to increases in surgical techniques and chemotherapy options. Some patients can take oral medication while others will need daily injections while they are undergoing chemotherapy. The treatment process may change depending on how advanced your specific cancer is and how well it responds to treatment.