What is Chordoma: A Rare Spine Cancer

Chordoma: A Rare Spine Cancer

Chordoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the spine, bone base of the skull, and the sacrum. It is a slow-growing type of cancer that can develop over many years or decades. Chordoma is a very uncommon cancer that affects about one in a million people each year. The cause of this cancer is not yet known, but it is believed to be caused by genetic mutations.

Risk Factors for Chordoma

Although the cause of chordoma is not yet known, there are some risk factors that may increase your chances of developing this rare cancer. These risk factors include:

1. Age

Chordoma is more common in older adults. The average age of a person diagnosed with chordoma is about 60 years.

2. Gender

Chordoma is slightly more common in men than in women.

3. Genetics

Chordoma is believed to be caused by genetic mutations. People who have a family history of the cancer or certain genetic disorders, such as tuberous sclerosis, may be at higher risk.

4. Radiation Exposure

Radiation exposure is another risk factor for developing chordoma. People who have received radiation therapy for other health issues, especially in the head or neck area, may be at higher risk for developing this type of cancer.

Symptoms of Chordoma

The symptoms of chordoma can vary depending on where the cancer is located in the body. Some common symptoms of chordoma include:

1. Back Pain

Chordoma of the spine can cause back pain that may be severe and persistent.

2. Numbness and Tingling

Compression of nerves by a chordoma can cause numbness and tingling in the arms, legs, or other areas of the body.

3. Difficulty Walking or Standing

Chordoma of the spine can cause difficulty walking or standing due to weakness or loss of sensation in the legs.

4. Headaches

Chordoma at the base of the skull can cause headaches that may be severe and persistent.

5. Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing

Chordoma in the neck area can cause difficulty swallowing or breathing due to compression of the airway.

Diagnosis of Chordoma

If you are experiencing symptoms of chordoma, your doctor may recommend the following tests to diagnose the cancer:

1. Imaging Tests

Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, can help your doctor visualize the location and size of the tumor.

2. Biopsy

A biopsy is a procedure that involves removing a sample of tissue from the tumor to examine it under a microscope. This can help confirm a diagnosis of chordoma.

3. Blood Tests

Blood tests may be done to check for certain proteins that are produced by chordoma tumors.

Treatment of Chordoma

The treatment of chordoma depends on the location and stage of the cancer. Treatment options may include:

1. Surgery

Surgery is often the first line of treatment for chordoma. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

2. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy may be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

3. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be used in some cases of chordoma, but it is usually not very effective.

Living with Chordoma

Living with chordoma can be challenging, especially if you are dealing with persistent pain or other symptoms. It is important to work closely with your medical team to manage your symptoms and monitor the cancer. You may also want to consider support groups or counseling to help you cope with the emotional and practical challenges of living with cancer.

Prevention of Chordoma

Since the cause of chordoma is not yet known, there are no specific prevention strategies for this rare cancer. However, you can reduce your risk by taking good care of your overall health and avoiding exposure to radiation whenever possible.

Conclusion

Chordoma is a rare type of cancer that can be difficult to diagnose and treat. If you are experiencing symptoms of this cancer, it is important to speak with your doctor right away. With prompt and effective treatment, many people with chordoma are able to live long and healthy lives.

Most Common Questions and Answers

  • Q: What is chordoma?
  • A: Chordoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the spine, bone base of the skull, and the sacrum.
  • Q: What are the risk factors for chordoma?
  • A: Risk factors for chordoma include age, gender, genetics, and radiation exposure.
  • Q: What are the symptoms of chordoma?
  • A: Symptoms of chordoma can include back pain, numbness and tingling, difficulty walking or standing, headaches, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Q: How is chordoma diagnosed?
  • A: Diagnosis of chordoma typically involves imaging tests, biopsy, and blood tests.
  • Q: What are the treatment options for chordoma?
  • A: Treatment options for chordoma may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
  • Q: Can chordoma be prevented?
  • A: Since the cause of chordoma is not yet known, there are no specific prevention strategies for this rare cancer. However, you can reduce your risk by taking good care of your overall health and avoiding exposure to radiation whenever possible.

References

1. Chordoma Foundation. (n.d.). What is chordoma. Retrieved from https://www.chordomafoundation.org/what-is-chordoma/

2. Mayo Clinic. (2018, Oct 11). Chordoma. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chordoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20355384.

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